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Showing posts from April, 2019

"UNSTOPPABLE" - verse 2

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 1 Corinthians 12:12‭-‬14 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/1co.12.12-14.NIV

"UNSTOPPABLE" - verse 1

Make models of the tumors and of the rats that are destroying the country, and give glory to Israel’s god. Perhaps he will lift his hand from you and your gods and your land. Why do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh did? When Israel’s god dealt harshly with them, did they not send the Israelites out so they could go on their way?  “Now then, get a new cart ready, with two cows that have calved and have never been yoked. Hitch the cows to the cart, but take their calves away and pen them up. Take the ark of the Lord and put it on the cart, and in a chest beside it put the gold objects you are sending back to him as a guilt offering. Send it on its way, but keep watching it. If it goes up to its own territory, toward Beth Shemesh, then the Lord has brought this great disaster on us. But if it does not, then we will know that it was not his hand that struck us but that it happened to us by chance.”  So they did this. They took two such cows and hitched them to the cart a

"UNSTOPPABLE" - Day 2

When I was twenty-two, I volunteered at a youth center a few nights each week. I served food to broken and hurting young people, invited them to tell me their stories, and listened to them share their problems. I loved encouraging them, serving them, and trying to be a light in their lives. Sometimes it was easy, and sometimes it was messy. Sometimes it involved tasks that seemed small, tedious or insignificant, and other times it involved helping someone be healed of a deep wound. No matter what God put before me, the lesson he wanted me to learn was clear: To thrive, we must learn to embrace our place.  Embracing our place means that no matter what season we are in, or what our circumstances are, we have to see ourselves as important members of God’s divine relay--right where we are. We have to accept and do his will for today in light of his plan for tomorrow, and for all eternity. God makes this lesson so clear in the life of David. When the prophet Samuel went to find the nex

"UNSTOPPABLE" - verses 1 & 2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1‭-‬2 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/heb.12.1-2.NIV In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the t

"UNSTOPPABLE" - Day 1

In the year 2000, Nick and I attended the Olympics in Sydney, Australia, where we were living at the time. I remember taking in the massive stadium filled with 110,000 people. It was breathtaking! Standing in the stadium, ready to watch the 4x100 meter relay, I was like the rest of the world: fully expectant that the U.S. would win. Coming into the race, they were the reigning Olympic champions, having won the gold in 1996. When it came time for the race, the American team started strong, and the first handoff was smooth. But when it came time for the second runner to pass the baton, she struggled to get it into the hand of her teammate. It was inconceivable! The fumbled handoff cost the team milliseconds but in a race like this, milliseconds can mean the difference between winning and losing. I was devastated when the U.S. lost by .25 seconds.  Four years later, at the next Olympics, despite their poor performance in 2000, the U.S. team was loaded with the best in the world. As the

JESUS: Day 7 verses 1 - 3

I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. Revelation 1:18 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/rev.1.18.NIV Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; John 11:25 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/jhn.11.25.NIV The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/2pe.3.9.NIV

JESUS: Our Banner of Victory Day 7

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Victory Over Death  When Jesus died for our sins and purchased our forgiveness, He saved us from an eternity of separation from God. He replaced the hopelessness of death with a living hope in an everlasting future in the presence of the Lord. And when He rose from the grave, Jesus displayed His ultimate victory over death, proving that its power is nothing in comparison to His. In Revelation 1:18, He declared, “I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” While death is a difficult reality for us in this life, as we experience the pain of losing those close to us and eventually have to grapple with our own earthly mortality, we can now be anchored by the truth that that Jesus holds the keys of death, and He has made a way for us to walk through a different door into an eternity of life. Death on earth is not the end of the story. There is so much more to come! Jesus promised in John 11: 25, “The one who be

JESUS: Day 6 verse

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/1co.10.13.NIV

JESUS: Our Banner of Victory Day 6

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Victory Over Temptation We don’t need anyone to remind us that temptation is real—never before has so much of the world been so readily available at the click of a button. But do we ever stop to think about the specific ways satan tries to tempt us? We need to understand how temptation works, so we can better defend against it. In Genesis, satan tempted Eve by questioning God’s Word and His motives, and her response brought sin and death into the world. In 2 Samuel, King David chose to stay at home during “the time when kings go off to war,” sending others to fight in his place. If David had been where God had called him to be, he never would have been alone on the rooftop to see Bathsheba. As a result, we see infidelity and murder introduced to David’s story. And when the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness in Matthew 4, satan tried to tempt the Son of God Himself by quoting Scripture. The enemy is constantly working to make us question God’s Word, His plan, and His heart fo

JESUS: Day 5 verses

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/rom.8.28.NIV But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/isa.53.5.NIV “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/jhn.16.33.NIV

JESUS: Our Banner of Victory Day 5

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Victory Over Sickness God’s Word tells us that by the stripes of Jesus we are healed. When Jesus died and rose again, He defeated sin, death, and sickness in all its forms for all of eternity. It’s amazing that, through Him, we share in this victory! But what does victory over sickness mean for us while we still live in a fallen world? Throughout the New Testament, we find examples of incredible healings performed by Jesus as well as by the Apostles acting in the power of His name. In reading these testimonies of healing, it can be easy to assume that God will answer our prayers about sickness a certain way: instant freedom from pain, total healing from an incurable or terminal diagnosis, or a complete victory over anxiety. So what do we do when our experience doesn’t meet our expectations? We need to be careful not to limit the incredible depth of what healing looks like. The apostle Paul told us in Romans 8:28 that God works all things together for the good of those who love

JESUS: Day 4 verses 1 - 3

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/2ti.1.7.NIV There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:18‭-‬19 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/1jn.4.18-19.NIV Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/jhn.14.27.NIV

JESUS: Our Banner of Victory Day 4

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Victory Over Fear  In our world today, bombarded with news and surrounded by what seems to be an endless flow of bad reports, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by fear. We’re afraid of the unknown, afraid of pain and loss, afraid we don’t have what it takes to succeed. But when our blameless Savior took on the cross to pay for our sin, He showed us perfect love. The power of that love defeated all the side effects of sin and darkness in the world, including fear. 1 John 4:18 tells us that “perfect love casts out fear.” Through His ultimate display of love on the cross, Jesus claimed victory over fear, and He invites us to share in that victory. He wants us to live with peace in our mind, heart, and spirit. But it’s up to us to receive and walk in the victorious power of His love. In Romans 8:38, the apostle Paul said he was convinced that nothing could separate us from the love of God. We, too, have the opportunity to be unshakeably confident in God’s love for us and abide in the

JESUS: Day 3 verses 1 & 2

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/1pe.5.8.NIV Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. Revelation 12:10 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/rev.12.10.NIV

JESUS: Our Banner of Victory Day 3

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Victory Over Shame The enemy loves to talk. God’s Word says that Satan prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. In Revelation, he is referred to as our accuser; we’re told that he accuses us before God day and night. Satan is crafty, and he knows that one of the best ways to kill, steal, and destroy our God-given potential is to create a commentary around our sin that keeps us in a perpetual mentality of unworthiness. He wants us to live in shame. You see, guilt is about what we’ve done, but shame is about who we are. Many of us accept that God forgives us for what we’ve done but still allow the enemy to accuse us and shut us down with lies about who we are inherently. These lies paralyze us from embracing and walking out God’s purpose for our lives. We are called to use the gifts and talents God has given us to make a difference in this world, but if we don’t break free from shame and unworthiness, we will never be able to fully accomplish what He create

JESUS: Our Banner of Victory - Day 2 verses 1 n 2

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, Romans 8:1 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/rom.8.1.NIV he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;  as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:10‭-‬12 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/psa.103.10-12.NIV

JESUS: Our Banner of Victory - Day 2

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Victory Over Guilt   One of Satan’s goals is for us to live in the darkness of guilt from our pasts. Satan knows that even if we believe that Jesus died for our sins, but still carry the guilt of our sin, we won’t truly receive the blessing and freedom of His forgiveness. We’ll live in the shadow of our worst sin. In John 9:5, Jesus refers to Himself as the Light of the world. But in Matthew 5:14 and 16, Jesus also said, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden...In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Jesus would never expect us to be a light for His glory if He didn’t provide a way out of the darkness of guilt. Psalm 103:10-12 tells us that God’s love for us is greater than we could ever imagine, and that He has taken our sin so far away from us that we cannot fully grasp the incredible distance. When Jesus died on the cross, He forever took the weight of sin off

JESUS: Our Banner of Victory - Day 1 (New 7 Day reading plan)

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Victory Over Sin When Adam and Eve first disobeyed God and ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden, sin became a part of the nature of mankind. Ever since, humans have been born naturally separated from God because of that sin. Because He is perfect, God simply cannot be in close proximity to sin. In the Old Testament, the Israelites were required to frequently sacrifice an unblemished lamb to atone for sin. The offering had to be perfect to cover the debt of sin - it was the only way a person could stay in right standing with God. Jesus is often referred to as the “Lamb of God”, because His sacrifice on the cross covered the sin of humanity. One of the many miracles of the cross is that it reversed the curse of Adam and Eve’s sin: Just as one act of sin separated all of humanity from God, the sacrifice made by one perfect person covered the sin of all people and made a way for reconciliation. Because Jesus offered Himself for us, we hav

"TRUST" - Day 4: verses 1 - 3

“I am the Lord , the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/jer.32.27.NIV I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/php.4.13.NIV And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/php.4.19.NIV

"TRUST" - Day 3: verses 1-3

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. Psalm 118:8 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/psa.118.8.NIV but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/isa.40.31.NIV So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/isa.41.10.NIV

"TRUST" - Day 2: verses 1- 3 ( no devotional)

Take delight in the Lord , and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord ; trust in him and he will do this: Psalm 37:4‭-‬5 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/psa.37.4-5.NIV The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him;  though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. Psalm 37:23‭-‬24 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/psa.37.23-24.NIV It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. Psalm 118:8 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/psa.118.8.NIV

"TRUST" - Day 1: verses 1 - 3

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/exo.14.14.NIV Not one of all the Lord ’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled. Joshua 21:45 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/jos.21.45.NIV But you are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now. Joshua 23:8 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/jos.23.8.NIV

"TRUST" - Day 1

Trust is a fundamental part of the Christian faith. And your trust grows through encountering God and meditating on His Word. The following verses, when memorized, can help you to trust God in all of your days. Let your life be transformed by memorizing Scripture! 

40 Days of Lent: Day 40 verse

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19‭-‬20 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/mat.28.19-20.NIV

40 Days of Lent: Day 40 (Last Day)

It's been a GREAT journey with JESUS! As someone who writes for a living, I know that opening sentences and closing sentences have to rock. They have to carry impact. The gospel of Matthew ends with this line from Jesus: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Perhaps, at first glance, it may not seem like the most impressive or memorable line. Yet, Matthew chooses to end the book with it, thus speaking to its significance. The disciples were going to be facing intense persecution over the next few months. And Jesus was assuring them that he would be right there with them, to the very end.  Physically, Jesus would be ascending to the Father. But he would send the Holy Spirit who would indwell the disciples forever.  That was a promise for the disciples. And it’s a promise for us today.  Jesus is always with us through the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Always and forever.  Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.  Bringing It Home In which situations do I

40 Days of Lent: Day 39 verse

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:16‭-‬20 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/mat.28.16-20.NIV

40 Days of Lent: Day 39

The passage we read is titled, “The Great Commission.” While that’s an appropriate header, I don’t know if it fully encapsulates Jesus’ call to the disciples. We often think of this passage as a call to share the good news, extrinsic to our daily lives. And while that’s true, it’s also a call to serve and a call to give of ourselves. It’s a natural extension of our life in Christ. The  Desiring God  website puts it like this: “ When our life in him is healthy and vibrant, we not only ache to keep sinking our roots down deep in him, but also to stretch our branches out and extend his goodness to others. ” The author also refers to “disciple making” as more than just speaking the truth. “It is also life-sharing, as Paul writes to the Thessalonians, “we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but  also our own selves ” (1 Thessalonians 2:8).” Personally, I love the more comprehensive coverage. It’s not an excuse to stop us from sharing the gospel. It’s an extensio

40 Days of Lent: Day 38 verse

While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day. Matthew 28:11‭-‬15 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/mat.28.11-15.NIV

40 Days of Lent: Day 38

The greatest cover up. That’s what the enemies of Jesus sought to do.  They came up with a devious scheme, bribed the soldiers and spread rumors through a vast and powerful network.  And, yet, despite their influence and their wiles, it was the greatest irony – the chief priests and their cohorts through their deceptive plan were inadvertently accepting that the tomb was empty.  People can try all they want to hide the truth or run from it. But God has the last word. He is the sovereign, all knowing, all powerful God.  His truth prevails. His truth sets us free .  The only way we can know the truth is not just the overwhelming evidence that the resurrection was historically accurate. The only way we can be fully convinced of the truth is a personal relationship with Jesus. Bringing It Home Do I try to hide from the truth through my busyness or through distractedness? Do I have a personal relationship with Christ that convinces me of the truth? Lean In Heavenly Father,

40 Days of Lent: Day 37 verse

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Matthew 28:8‭-‬10 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/mat.28.8-10.NIV

40 Days of Lent: Day 37

The women couldn’t believe what they had seen. Or rather, what they had  not  seen. There was no body in the tomb. The angel told them that Jesus has risen. Could this be true? They ran to tell the disciples, a mixture of excitement and fear coursing through their veins. That’s when Jesus meets with them. The women weren’t at the perfect point in their faith. Scripture notes that they were still afraid. But  Jesus met with them right where they were . He didn’t wait for a time when their faith-o-meter was cranked up all the way. He met them while they were still wrapping their minds around all they’d experienced.  All the women could do in response was to fall before Him in worship. Bringing It Home Do I feel like I need to have a perfect life and perfect faith before I can have a real relationship with Jesus? What is my response when Jesus meets me at my point of need? Lean In God of Grace, I come to you in worship because you meet me right where I am. You know my heart a

40 Days of Lent: Day 36 verse

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:5‭-‬6 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/mat.28.5-6.NIV

40 Days of Lent: Day 36

The angel greets the startled women at the empty tomb. When I dwell on the angel’s words, deeper truths resonate with me. The angel is not simply there as a greeter at an exhibit. I love his insightful comment, “I know you’re looking for Jesus.” In some way, aren’t we all? We are all seekers on the journey of life. Some of us have found Jesus but still have a ways to go to discover him more. Some of us are yet to discover the sweet joy of knowing him.  Either way, the answer lies in the empty tomb. He is the resurrection and the life for all who seek Him. The angel invites the women to “come and see.”  Every seeker discovers Jesus through a personal experience.  It has to be a one-on-one transaction: my sin for his forgiveness. I have to come to Jesus, just as I am, without one plea, but that his blood was shed me.  Bringing It Home Where am I on my journey of seeking God? Do I need to “come and see?” Lean In Father, Thank you for putting that God-shaped vacuum in my h

40 Days of Lent: Day 35 verse

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.  There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.  The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”  So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Matthew 28:1‭-‬8 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/mat.28.1-8.NIV

40 Days of Lent: Day 35

And we thought women’s empowerment was a recent phenomenon.  I believe that God was a proponent of equal rights from the very moment he created Adam and Eve (equal status but distinct roles). But in today’s passage, we see how God takes societal norms and dismisses them with a wave of his hand.  It was not coincidental that the women were the ones who discovered the empty tomb. It was God ordained. It was God saying to us that women are valuable to his kingdom.  It was God taking the world order and turning it upside down. Culturally, women at the time were to remain in the background. But God restores them to their rightful role as important participants in his kingdom. He gives the women at the tomb the significant commission of being his first witnesses. Bringing It Home Do I see myself and other women as being a key part of God’s kingdom on earth? Lean In Heavenly Father, Thank you for the place of honor you’ve given women in your Word. Today, it seems like women are

40 Days of Lent: Day 34 verse

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:5‭-‬6 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/mat.28.5-6.NIV

40 Days of Lent: Day 34

The empty tomb.  Death could not keep him down. He is risen. Our God conquered sin and death. I reflect on the words of the song,  “In Christ Alone” There in the ground His body lay Light of the world by darkness slain Then bursting forth in glorious Day Up from the grave He rose again And as He stands in victory Sin's curse has lost its grip on me For I am His and He is mine Bought with the precious blood of Christ   No guilt in life, no fear in death This is the power of Christ in me From life's first cry to final breath Jesus commands my destiny No power of hell, no scheme of man Can ever pluck me from His hand Till He returns or calls me home Here in the power of Christ I'll stand That same resurrection power is at work in us today!  Bringing It Home Do I believe that Christ’s resurrection power is at work in me through his Holy Spirit? What does that mean for my life? Lean In Almighty God, You defeated the grave and conquered sin. Once and for all. T

40 Days of Lent: Day 33 verse

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”  “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. Matthew 27:62‭-‬66 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/mat.27.62-66.NIV

40 Days of Lent: Day 33

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”  “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. Matthew 27:62‭-‬66 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/mat.27.62-66.NIV

40 Days of Lent: Day 32 verse

As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Matthew 27:57‭-‬60 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/mat.27.57-60.NIV

40 Days of Lent: Day 32

Here is a rich, powerful man making his entrance into the narrative. Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the ruling council. He probably had everything going for him: wealth, power, prestige and influence.  Yet, he put everything on the line for Jesus. He risked his reputation. He came forward at a time when it was still perilous, when he could still have been ridiculed, even punished. Yet, Joseph of Arimathea didn’t make excuses. He expressed his love in action.  There may come a time in your life and mine when we’re called to step out of the shadows and do something brave and big for God.  It may involve a risk that you’d never imagined you’d take. But when God calls you, he equips you.   Bringing it Home What is God asking of me today? Can I hear his voice over the cacophony in my life? Am I willing to take a big step out of my comfort zone for him? Lean In Father, Help me to remember and be emboldened by the fact that your grace is sufficient for every situation. I’m s

40 Days of Lent: Day 31 verse

When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” Matthew 27:54 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/mat.27.54.NIV

40 Days of Lent: Day 31

The magnitude of Jesus’ crucifixion was reflected in nature. Darkness covered the land, the earth shook violently, rocks split. There was no way anyone who witnessed this could have put all these signs down to coincidence. Nature was echoing the utter devastation of the moment. The centurion and his cronies gasped in terror, finally recognizing that Jesus was the Son of God. But recognizing that fact and putting one’s faith in Jesus are two entirely different things . In fact, even Satan recognizes that Jesus is the Son of God. What you do with that acknowledgement is what determines your life here and forever. Nature testifies to the glorious power of God. In Romans 1, Paul writes: For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Let’s not stop at exclaiming, “Surely, he was the Son of God.” Let’s say with delight that s

40 Days of Lent: Day 30 verse 1 & 2

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split Matthew 27:51 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/mat.27.51.NIV Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, Hebrews 10:19‭-‬20 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/heb.10.19-20.NIV

40 Days of Lent: Day 30

What a dramatic moment. The curtain of the temple was torn into two. The curtain – that separated the Holy of Holies from the worshipers – was a heavy piece of fabric. According to historical accounts, it was 45-60 feet long and about 4 inches thick. This was not a flimsy strip of material. And it split from top to bottom.  The tearing of the curtain was supernatural and it pointed to the fact that Jesus’ death gives us - a broken and sinful humanity - the right to come into the Holy of Holies and have a relationship with God. Maybe we should ask ourselves what kinds of curtains or veils we hide behind. What stops us from entering into an intimate communion with God? Could it be that my past is too murky? Or that I first need to get things in order? Could the curtain be that I’m still in love with all things worldly?  We need to believe that the curtain has already been torn. Hebrews 10:19-20 says that the faithful enter into the sanctuary by the “blood of Jesus, by the new

40 Days of Lent: Day 29 verse

but whose delight is in the law of the Lord , and who meditates on his law day and night. Psalm 1:2 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/psa.1.2.NIV

40 Days of Lent: Day 29

As we wrap up the section on Jesus’ sayings from the Cross, let’s spend a few minutes in the lost art of Christian meditation. This is not an emptying of the mind. Nor is it repetitive mumbo jumbo. This is about meditating  on the   Word of God . It means dwelling  on  and dwelling  in  that Word as it we hide it in our hearts. This is not a new-fangled, mystical asceticism.  This is what David spoke about in the Psalms when he said “blessed” is the one who “delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he  meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2) Today, spend a few minutes going over the last words of Jesus that we read in the last seven meditations. Listen to or sing aloud this hymn written by Isaac Watts: When I survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, Save in the death of Christ my God! All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them t

40 Days of Lent: Day 28 verse

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:46 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/luk.23.46.NIV

40 Days of Lent: Day 28

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. The closing statement. It was not bombastic. It was not an “I have done it” proclamation. It was not a theological discourse.  It was a Son’s simple trust in a good, good Father. It was Jesus showing us what it means to trust God 100 percent.  It was Jesus showing us how he laid down his right to live . It was Jesus showing us how to die. Dr. William Barclay writes, "Jesus died with a prayer on his lips. `Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' This was Psalm 31: 5 with one word added: Father. It showed that after his cry, “My God, my god, why has thou forsaken me?” Jesus was now back to addressing God as “Father,” re-establishing intimacy within the Trinity. He died in perfect peace commending himself to the One who he knew best.  Bringing It Home What is God asking me to commit to Him? Am I trusting an unknown future to a known God?

40 Days of Lent: Day 27 verse

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/jhn.19.30.NIV

40 Days of Lent: Day 27

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Those three words – It is finished - are a declaration of victory Jesus uses a rather unusual sentence syntax. Correct grammar would have been: It has been finished.  Yet, Jesus deliberately compromises his grammar to declare that the effect of his sacrifice is for all time. He  is  for today. His sacrifice  is  for now, as much as it was for then.  Jesus had completed the mission he had come for. It was completed to perfection.  He had poured out his life even unto death.  He made it possible for a sinful humanity to have an eternal relationship with a Holy God. Nothing needs to be added to it. No good works. No more sacrifice. This was the greatest victory in the human race. Victory over sin and death.  Bringing It Home Do I believe that I have victory over sin because of the Cross? Or do I somehow feel like I’m not strong enough to withstand the tides of

40 Days of Lent: Day 26 verse

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” John 19:28 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/jhn.19.28.NIV

40 Days of Lent: Day 26

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” Jesus hung on that wooden beam, struggling for breath. He knew the end was near and he cried out in physical agony, “I thirst.” Why? There could perhaps be deep theological reasons. Maybe he was referring to his soul’s yearning for people come into the kingdom.  I think, though, at this point, he was just crying out with parched lips and expressing his humanity. Yes, he was fully God. But, he was also fully man. He bore the torture  in his flesh . He suffered as a human in order to free all humanity. He who is the Living Water now expresses his desperate thirst. Jesus accepts his need for a drink.  He lays down his right to be invulnerable in order to reach a hurting humanity. Bringing It Home Am I acting like I have it all together? Do I realize that being vulnerable doesn’t make me weak? Do I go to the spring of Living Water in order to pour int