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HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 02 Apr 2014, 10:28 pm

"A Matter of Obedient Trust" — A Year with Jesus for 04/02/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

I talked to you yesterday about managing your assets wisely — about investing your assets in the places you saw Me invest My life and in the things the Father talked to you about in the Scriptures (the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings). So this is a good time to build on that principle and add a very important insight.

In today's parable that you find in the verses below, you meet a foolish rich man who lived only for himself and neglected the people in need around him. This rich man invested his assets in what he wanted and in what made him feel important, secure, and powerful. What he did and how he did it went against the teaching of the Scriptures. These things that he did were clearly out of phase with the people and things I invested My life to accomplish. So the rich man is everything opposite to what I taught you yesterday — he is the anti-hero. This is sad. Even sadder is his neglect of a brother in need at his doorstep. The Father dealt with this rich man as He said He would. There are no surprises to anyone who knows the Scriptures, except the rich man who realized his foolishness because of his untimely death and facing the punishment he had brought on himself. So I want to remind you to use your blessings to care about your brother and sister in need; that's investing in what matters in heaven!

While that's a very important point and fits perfectly with what I taught yesterday, that's not what I want you to focus upon today. People want to blame their lack of passion, their focus on godliness, and lack of living with urgency for God's kingdom on everything but themselves. They say things like the following:

"I needed it made clearer."

"My church didn't talk about these things."

"I really needed a couple of miracles to show that the teaching was true."

All that is self-delusional rationalization. If folks didn't get the truth from Scripture, they were not going to believe it even if it was made clearer or talked about more frequently or if the teaching was accompanied by a couple of miracles. It's a matter of obedient trust in the truth of Scripture. If folks won't believe the Scriptures, then it won't matter to them even if someone comes back from the dead and shows them that this way of life is true. If you say you believe in God, then value what God values. Miracles won't convince you if your heart chooses to be callous and greedy. Each of you must invest his or her life in things that align with the heart of God. His will, His character and compassion, must be the passion of each individual heart — your heart, My friend.

So where is your heart? What is your focus? Are you listening to what Scripture teaches?
Verses to Live

You are saved by grace through faith — your New Testament makes this clear. Yet grace not only saves you from the consequences of sin and death; grace also saves you for a life of character and compassion as My disciple. Read both from My brother James (James 2:14-22) and also from the apostle Paul (Ephesians 2:1-10). Paul summarized it well when he said, "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" (Galatians 5:6 NIV). If you listen carefully to what I AM saying to you to today and what I teach a little later, you will see that they were saying essentially the same thing I taught!
Jesus (with another parable):
There was this rich man who had everything — purple clothing of fine quality and high fashion, gourmet meals every day, and a large house. Just outside his front gate lay this poor homeless fellow named Lazarus. Lazarus was covered in ugly skin lesions. He was so hungry he wished he could scavenge scraps from the rich man's trash. Dogs would come and lick the sores on his skin. The poor fellow died and was carried on the arms of the heavenly messengers to the embrace of Abraham. Then the rich fellow died and was buried and found himself in the place of the dead. In his torment, he looked up, and off in the distance he saw Abraham, with Lazarus in his embrace.

He shouted out, "Father Abraham! Please show me mercy! Would you send that beggar Lazarus to dip his fingertip in water and cool my tongue? These flames are hot, and I'm in agony!"

But Abraham said, "Son, you seem to be forgetting something: your life was full to overflowing with comforts and pleasures, and the life of Lazarus was just as full with suffering and pain. So now is his time of comfort, and now is your time of agony. Besides, a great canyon separates you and us. Nobody can cross over from our side to yours, or from your side to ours."

"Please, Father Abraham, I beg you," the formerly rich man continued, "send Lazarus to my father's house. I have five brothers there, and they're on the same path I was on. If Lazarus warns them, they'll choose another path and won't end up here in torment."

But Abraham said, "Why send Lazarus? They already have the law of Moses and the writings of the prophets to instruct them. Let your brothers hear them."

"No, Father Abraham," he said, "they're already ignoring the law and the prophets. But if someone came back from the dead, then they'd listen for sure; then they'd change their way of life."

Abraham answered, "If they're not listening to Moses and the prophets, they won't be convinced even if someone comes back from the dead."

(Luke 16:19-31)
Response in Prayer

Father, thank You for Jesus' resurrection from the dead. The change in the apostles from fear to courage after His resurrection is a powerful testimony to me. Yet as I apply Jesus' teaching today, I know that my heart needs to seek Your will or Jesus' resurrection really won't convince me of anything that requires me to change. So I pray that You
use the Spirit to conform Me to be more like Jesus and transform my heart to care about what matters to You as I open Your Scriptures to hear Your truth. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 01 Apr 2014, 6:36 pm

"Managing Your Assets Wisely" — A Year with Jesus for 04/01/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

Over the ages, humans have freely talked with each other about almost everything, except how you spend your money. Once the talk about managing earthly, monetary, physical blessings start, people tend to get defensive. I appreciate Doctor Luke's account of My life and the way he emphasizes many practical and spiritual things about My ministry — food and feasts, prayer and praise, the work of the Holy Spirit, poor and rich, and My teaching on the use of money. Below you find one of those sets of verses where Luke records Me talking about money and how you should manage your assets for spiritual ends.

To help you understand the principles below, I want to remind you of something I taught at another place and time:
Some people store up treasures in their homes here on earth. This is a shortsighted practice — don't undertake it. Moths and rust will eat up any treasure you may store here. Thieves may break into your homes and steal your precious trinkets. Instead, put up your treasures in heaven where moths do not attack, where rust does not corrode, and where thieves are barred at the door. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

(Matthew 6:19-21)

Use the money and physical assets that the Father has entrusted to you to store up heavenly treasures. He is going to notice how you use your money and where you spend it. Why? Because your heart is always drawn to where your treasure is invested. So use your assets to bless those who cannot repay you in this life, to empower My mission, to redeem the lost, to restore life, to renew opportunity for those who are left out and forgotten, and to give hope to the marginalized. Isn't that what you saw Me invest My life doing? That is where I invested My assets and energy and time; shouldn't you do the same? When you read from the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings — what some of you call the Old Testament — what do you see about the heart of God and where He wants you to invest your assets? His focus and My focus align. Does your focus align with Ours?

Verses to Live

The problem in your life doesn't have to be money if your heart is on the things that matter most to your Father in heaven. This principle is true whether your assets are small or large. However, if the way you use your assets gets out of phase with where I invested Myself, then watch out! You are trying to serve two masters and the one you end up neglecting will be the only One that matters, your Father in heaven.
Here's a parable He [Jesus] told the disciples:

Jesus:
Once there was a rich and powerful man who had an asset manager. One day, the man received word that his asset manager was squandering his assets.

The rich man brought in the asset manager and said, "You've been accused of wrongdoing. I want a full and accurate accounting of all your financial transactions because you are really close to being fired."

The manager said to himself, "Oh, no! Now what am I going to do? I'm going to lose my job here, and I'm too weak to dig ditches and too proud to beg. I have an idea. This plan will mean that I have a lot of hospitable friends when I get fired."

So the asset manager set up appointments with each person who owed his master money. He said to the first debtor, "How much do you owe my boss?" The debtor replied, "A hundred barrels of oil." The manager said, "I'm discounting your bill by half. Just write 50 on this contract." Then he said to the second debtor, "How much do you owe?" This fellow said, "A hundred bales of wheat." The manager said, "I'm discounting your debt by 20 percent. Just write down 80 bales on this contract."

When the manager's boss realized what he had done, he congratulated him for at least being clever. That's how it is: those attuned to this evil age are more clever in dealing with their affairs than the enlightened are in dealing with their affairs!

Learn some lessons from this crooked but clever asset manager. Realize that the purpose of money is to strengthen friendships, to provide opportunities for being generous and kind. Eventually money will be useless to you — but if you use it generously to serve others, you will be welcomed joyfully into your eternal destination.

If you're faithful in small-scale matters, you'll be faithful with far bigger responsibilities. If you're crooked in small responsibilities, you'll be no different in bigger things. If you can't even handle a small thing like money, who's going to entrust you with spiritual riches that really matter? If you don't manage well someone else's assets that are entrusted to you, who's going to give over to you important spiritual and personal relationships to manage?

Imagine you're a servant and you have two masters giving you orders. What are you going to do when they have conflicting demands? You can't serve both, so you'll either hate the first and love the second, or you'll faithfully serve the first and despise the second. One master is God and the other is money. You can't serve them both.

The Pharisees overheard all this, and they started mocking Jesus because they really loved money.

Jesus (to the Pharisees):
You've made your choice. Your ambition is to look good in front of other people, not God. But God sees through to your hearts. He values things differently from you. The goals you and your peers are reaching for God detests.

The law and the prophets had their role until the coming of John the Baptist. Since John's arrival, the good news of the kingdom of God has been taught while people are clamoring to enter it. That's not to say that God's rules for living are useless. The stars in the sky and the earth beneath your feet will pass away before one letter of God's rules for living become worthless.

(Luke 16:1-17)
Response in Prayer

Dear Father, I want my heart to value what and who matter to You. I ask for the help of the Holy Spirit and the example and teaching of Jesus to help me use the blessings that You have entrusted to me in ways that align with Your heart. I want my treasure and my heart to always align with You. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Mon 31 Mar 2014, 10:59 pm

The Father With Two Lost Sons" — A Year with Jesus for 03/31/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

Today, we focus on the final story in Luke's collection of three of My parables about finding lost things and lost sons. In today's story that you can read in the verses below, you meet a father who had two lost sons. One son who stayed at home and saw himself as working hard for many years for his father — literally, he says to his father, "All these years I have been slaving away for you!" The other son told his father that he was as good as dead to him, so give him the inheritance he was owed at his father's death, immediately. 

Both sons were lost. The son who stayed at home and played the game to get what he felt was rightfully his was lost. The son who wanted his inheritance, received it, and then left, was lost. Both sons received their proper share of the inheritance... don't miss that point. Here's the sad part: neither son appreciated the father. Both sons were lost.

Now remember from Luke's first two verses in the chapter the situation that led Me to tell this story:
Jesus became increasingly popular among notorious sinners — tax collectors and other social outcasts. The Pharisees and religious scholars noticed this.
Pharisees and Religious Scholars:
This man welcomes immoral people and enjoys their company over a meal.

(Luke 15:1-2)


I wanted the "immoral people" to share My fellowship and come home to the Father by turning their lives away from sin and rebellion. I wanted the religious folks who thought they were honoring the Father with their religious games to turn from their self-righteousness and come home to their gracious and generous father. Both were sinners. Both needed to come home. 

So that leaves Me with two final questions:
Which of these two sons are you most like?
What do you need to do right now to turn your life over to Me and come home to the Father?

Verses to Live

Please hear the words that follow as My invitation to come home to the Father!
Jesus (with another parable):
Once there was this man who had two sons. One day the younger son came to his father and said, "Father, eventually I'm going to inherit my share of your estate. Rather than waiting until you die, I want you to give me my share now." And so the father liquidated assets and divided them. A few days passed and this younger son gathered all his wealth and set off on a journey to a distant land. Once there he wasted everything he owned on wild living. He was broke, a terrible famine struck that land, and he felt desperately hungry and in need. He got a job with one of the locals, who sent him into the fields to feed the pigs. The young man felt so miserably hungry that he wished he could eat the slop the pigs were eating. Nobody gave him anything.

So he had this moment of self-reflection: "What am I doing here? Back home, my father's hired servants have plenty of food. Why am I here starving to death? I'll get up and return to my father, and I'll say, 'Father, I have done wrong—wrong against God and against you. I have forfeited any right to be treated like your son, but I'm wondering if you'd treat me as one of your hired servants?'"

So he got up and returned to his father. The father looked off in the distance and saw the young man returning. He felt compassion for his son and ran out to him, enfolded him in an embrace, and kissed him.

The son said, "Father, I have done a terrible wrong in God's sight and in your sight too. I have forfeited any right to be treated as your son."

But the father turned to his servants and said, "Quick! Bring the best robe we have and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet. Go get the fattest calf and butcher it. Let's have a feast and celebrate because my son was dead and is alive again. He was lost and has been found." So they had this huge party.

Now the man's older son was still out in the fields working. He came home at the end of the day and heard music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what was going on. The servant said, "Your brother has returned, and your father has butchered the fattest calf to celebrate his safe return."

The older brother got really angry and refused to come inside, so his father came out and pleaded with him to join the celebration. But he argued back, "Listen, all these years I've worked hard for you. I've never disobeyed one of your orders. But how many times have you even given me a little goat to roast for a party with my friends? Not once! This is not fair! So this son of yours comes, this wasteful delinquent who has spent your hard- earned wealth on loose women, and what do you do? You butcher the fattest calf from our herd!"

The father replied, "My son, you are always with me, and all I have is yours. Isn't it right to join in the celebration and be happy? This is your brother we're talking about. He was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found again!"

(Luke 15:11-32)
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank you for Jesus' story of two lost sons. It grabs my heart. As you know, there are some days I am the younger and rebellious son. Please forgive me. I'm coming back home to You today. Some days I am the older brother, full of self-righteousness and the things I feel that I deserve special treatment. Please forgive me. I'm coming back home to You today. In Jesus' name I confess this. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sun 30 Mar 2014, 5:38 pm

"Cry for Jerusalem" — A Year with Jesus for 03/24/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

What will you do when you see death closing in around you?

Will you fight it?

Will you resent it?

Will you fear it?

Will you resign yourself to its inevitability?

Or, if you are faced with the same circumstances that I am about to face in Jerusalem, will you mourn for those who reject you, grieve for those who want to do you harm, and ask forgiveness for those who will take your life?

You shouldn't be surprised that when I was suffering on the cross in Jerusalem I petitioned: "Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing" (Luke 23:34).

I came for this purpose: to give My life as a ransom for sinners, including those in Jerusalem who rejected Me, who plotted My crucifixion, and who incited the crowd to cry out against Me.

Jerusalem, the holy city of My great ancestor, King David, will reject Me even though I AM the city's only hope for deliverance. My people will plot against Me, their only source of salvation. As you read the verses below, notice how I speak from My heart, feeling sadness, anguish, and pain as I think of Jerusalem and all that will happen to Me as I go there.

Even before I came to the earth, I longed over the centuries for My people of Jerusalem to give themselves heart, soul, mind, and strength to Us — Father, Son, and Spirit. I yearned to gather up Jerusalem's many people under My protection and care, but most of the people of this great city would have none of it. In fact, on this day that you read about below, I know that I AM headed to Jerusalem for the head-on collision with the rulers of the people and for My rejection and crucifixion. Yet I do not mourn for Me, but for My people and My city that reject Me. 

Remember this, dear friend; My heart breaks when you choose to ignore, reject, or turn away from Me. I came and died to win your heart and bring you grace. Please don't treat lightly My love and sacrifice for You!
Verses to Live

Herod and the Pharisees were not friends. They didn't get along. Yet they found common ground on one thing. They both wanted to be rid of Me. The Pharisees' warning to Me about Herod's plot was not to benefit Me, but to let Me know these rival parties were closing in on Me — that the time before they arrested was coming to an end. However, their warning, Herod's plot to murder Me, and the Pharisees plans to get rid of Me would not deter Me from My ministry to the people or stop My love for the city of Jerusalem. I know I go there to bless and redeem even though death awaits Me.
Right then some Pharisees came and warned Him.

Pharisees:
You'd better get out of here because Herod is plotting Your murder.

Jesus:
You can give that sly fox this message: "Watch as I cast out demons and perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I'll reach My destination. But for today and tomorrow and the next day, I have to continue My journey, for no prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem."

O Jerusalem! O Jerusalem! You kill the prophets and you stone the messengers who are sent to you. How often I wanted to gather in your children as a hen gathers in her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing to come to Me. Look now, your house is abandoned and empty. You won't see Me until you welcome Me with the words of the psalms, "Anyone who comes in the name of the Eternal One will be blessed!"

(Luke 13:31-35)
Response in Prayer

O God in heaven, my heart is struck with the love of Jesus for these people and for the city of Jerusalem that will reject Him. Part of me is angry at the murderous plans that Herod and the Pharisees and the other religious leaders carry out to kill Jesus. Yet at the same time, I'm convicted that I have often forgotten the cost of My salvation. Temptation has distracted Me from the love of the Lord Jesus for me and the sacrifice He made to redeem me. Forgive me for the times I've chosen sin over Jesus. In addition, dear Father, I ask for more grace that I can more passionately love the people around me, in my city, that reject Jesus and reject me because of my love for Him. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
© 1998-2014, Heartlight Inc.

"People Count Most!" — A Year with Jesus for 03/25/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

I want you to see My example and hear My words in the verses below. They coalesce into one, simple, clear message: People count most!

In the verses below, you find Me at a dinner in the house of a leader among the Pharisees, My most vocal opponents. Why? Why go to a meal with people who are hounding Me and trying to trap Me? Because I love them! They matter to Us — Father, Son, and Spirit. Their hearts need the opportunity to be exposed to My truth and seeds need to be planted into those hearts, seeds that can blossom into faith and bear fruit after these people see My passion and hear about My resurrection. The Father, the Spirit, and I want all people to have an opportunity to change their hearts and come to faith in Me. I go to the house of this leader and a dinner with his friends, people who hold Me as their enemy, for one simple reason: People count most!

I challenge this leader and his Pharisee friends to see this same truth in their own religious understanding. They help their children who are in trouble on the Sabbath. They help their animals who are in distress on the Sabbath. They do not see these gracious actions as a violation of their traditions of the Sabbath rest. They must come to see that a person in trouble, a brother or sister in distress, must be helped regardless of the day when they have the ability and opportunity to help, comfort, encourage, or ease that person's distress or trouble. People count most!

And you, dear disciple, please notice this truth as you seek to apply My teaching — this principle that I taught and lived as an example for you to follow. People count most! I came to seek and to save lost people, to ransom you and others like you from the grip of sin and death on your lives, and to bring My grace to those in need. That is why I went to the house of those who wanted to get rid of Me. That is why I emphasized the need to help people on the Sabbath even if it violated the tradition of the Pharisees. And most of all, that is why I AM headed to Jerusalem to die as the Lamb of God Who will take away the sins of the world. People count most! 
Verses to Live

As you read these verses that follow, ask the Holy Spirit to help you visualize the scene. What are the expressions on the people's faces? What are the smells in the room as we get ready to share this meal? Can you feel the tension between this leader and Me? Can you feel his discomfort? Now join Me in noticing the man with the problem. What is My expression as I see him? What do you think My tone was as I discussed this man with the leader? Was My tone harsh or pleading with this leader as I asked about healing the man? Remember the point: People count most! And after you finish reading, I want you to ask for the Spirit to help you answer the following questions you need to ask yourself: What does Jesus want me to know from this event? What does Jesus want me to feel about what happens here? What does Jesus want me to do as a result of experiencing this event from His ministry?
Another Sabbath Day came and Jesus was invited to an official's home for a meal. This fellow was a leader of the Pharisees, and Jesus was still under close surveillance by them. Jesus noticed a man suffering from a swelling disorder. He questioned the religious scholars and Pharisees.

Jesus:
Is it permitted by traditions and the Hebrew Scriptures to heal people on the Sabbath, or is it forbidden?

They didn't reply. Then Jesus healed the man and sent him on his way.

Jesus:
Would any single one of you leave his son or even his ox in a well on the Sabbath if he had fallen into it, or would you pull him out immediately?

They still didn't reply

(Luke 14:1-6)
Response in Prayer

Almighty God, I believe Your words of Scripture are true and bring life, but I want to understand and apply those words of truth based on the teaching and example of Your greatest Word, Jesus. Help me filter my application of biblical truth through Jesus' words and actions. Most of all, dear Father, I want the Spirit to open my heart to live out the truth of Jesus in my words, my thoughts, and my actions. Give me Your heart for people, O God, I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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"Who Sits at Your Table of Grace?" — A Year with Jesus for 03/26/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

You have been blessed with great honor to be included at My table of grace! When you come and remember Me at what you call "the Lord's Table" and share in what some of you call "Holy Communion," and others call "the Eucharist," and still others call "the Lord's Supper," please remember how precious the opportunity is for you and all who share this sacred feast. While the events you read about in the verses below happened as I was working My way to Jerusalem and My crucifixion, Luke recorded this story for you. So I want you to place yourself at the table and hear the words that I say as if I addressed them specifically to you. When you come to My table and take communion, remember the following two key messages that I shared long ago and know that I want them to be fresh in your mind each time you come to My table!

So what are these two messages?

First, be thankful you have received My invitation of grace and are invited to sit at My table as part of My family. Don't try to make yourself seem important. In My family, those trying to appear special and to be publically honored as important will be sent to a lower place of importance. I value those who serve others with humility and grace. I value the person who gives of himself or herself to bless others. Such a person is honored in My family and at My table. Remember, I gave Myself for you to invite you to My table. Your life should reflect the character and compassion that I have shown you!

Second, when you share in the grace of My table, ask yourself who needs to be there but is absent. Ask yourself who needs this grace most in the world around you — in your neighborhood, in your inner city, in your workplace, and on your street corners. My meal is not intended to be for a clique of people who feel they are superior to others. My table is a place to give thanks for the grace that brought you to My table. My table is a reminder to extend My grace to those who don't know the acceptance, love, and grace of My family.

My beloved disciple, John, described it this way:
My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins — and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

(1 John 2:1-2 NLT).
So who in your world needs to know about My grace and join us at My table? Just as I made room at My table of grace for you, please extend that grace to others!

Verses to Live

Luke's words of introduction to a series of My sayings centered on eating and table fellowship (Luke 14:1), set the stage for today's message. Remember, as you read these words, they need to be fresh and new, spoken by Me directly to your heart!
Another Sabbath Day came and Jesus was invited to an official's home for a meal. This fellow was a leader of the Pharisees, and Jesus was still under close surveillance by them...

He noticed how the guests were jockeying for places of honor at the dinner, so He gave them advice.

Jesus:
Whenever someone invites you to a wedding dinner, don't sit at the head table. Someone more important than you might also have been invited, and your host will have to humiliate you publicly by telling you to give your seat to the other guest and to go find an open seat in the back of the room. Instead, go and sit in the back of the room. Then your host may find you and say, "My friend! Why are you sitting back here? Come up to this table near the front!" Then you will be publicly honored in front of everyone. Listen, if you lift yourself up, you'll be put down, but if you humble yourself, you'll be honored.

Jesus still wasn't finished. Now He turned to the host who had invited Him to this gathering.

Jesus:
When you host a dinner or banquet, don't invite your friends, your brothers, your relatives, or your rich neighbors. If you do, they might invite you to a party of their own, and you'll be repaid for your kindness. Instead, invite the poor, the amputees, the cripples, the blind. Then you'll be blessed because they can never repay you. Your reward will come from God at the resurrection of the just and good.

They still didn't reply.

(Luke 14:7-14)
Response in Prayer

O God, my loving heavenly Father, I thank You for Your grace. Thank you for inviting me to the table of Your grace, an invitation given to me through Jesus' sacrifice. Forgive me when I take the Supper without recognizing that I am a part of the family at Jesus' table because of grace, not because of my religious pedigree or my own earned righteousness. Holy Spirit, when I come to the Table, please stir my heart and remind me to invite others to the Lord's Table of grace. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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"The Great Invitation" — A Year with Jesus for 03/27/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Seeker,

Yesterday, I warned about one false way to approach My invitation to My table of grace — don't come to My table with a haughty and self-important attitude. You need to come to My Table with humility from a life of serving others. You need to come looking for others who need to be at My table of grace.

Today, I am warning you of another false approach. You can take My offer of grace lightly — you can forget how blessed you are to be invited and find other things that feel more important to you at the moment and put off My invitation of grace.

Please understand, there is nothing more important in your life right now than accepting My invitation to share in the Father's grace. Nothing! Yes, I know there are important things going on in your life right now. I know there are people who may not understand why responding to My invitation is so important. There may even be people who have their feelings hurt if you choose to respond to My invitation and there may be others who will ridicule you or reject you completely for your choice to follow Me and accept My invitation. However, I want you to hear Me. I am journeying to Jerusalem when I share the message in the verses below. I know I am going there to die for the sins of the people — including your sins. I am going to sacrifice Myself — My dignity and My life — for you. Once you understand this, you need to respond to My invitation immediately. There is nothing more important. I gave Myself to give you a place at My table of grace; don't spurn My invitation by assuming you have time to respond. Today is the day of your invitation. Don't reject the grace that is offered you, today!
Verses to Live

I love Doctor Luke because he loves to talk about My ministry around food. The first paragraph in the verses below includes one of these references to table fellowship (Luke 14:1), and serves as an introduction to today's message. I have spent several days in a row teaching you about the grace of joining Me at My table and reminding you of those whom you should include — friends, critics, opponents, the marginalized, and the lost. Today's message, dear seeker, is especially important for you. Some with whom I share this message have never really accepted the grace I came to share. Others have never really committed themselves to the life of discipleship. Others have treated My invitation of grace with disrespect. Please hear My urgent words to you in the verses that follow!
Another Sabbath Day came and Jesus was invited to an official's home for a meal. This fellow was a leader of the Pharisees, and Jesus was still under close surveillance by them...

Guest:
Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!

Jesus:
A man once hosted a huge banquet and invited many guests. When the time came, he sent his servant to tell the guests who had agreed to come, "We're ready! Come now!" But then every single guest began to make excuses.

One said, "Oh, I'm sorry. I just bought some land, and I need to go see it. Please excuse me."

Another said, "So sorry. I just bought five pairs of oxen. I need to go check them out. Please excuse me."

Another said, "I just got married, so I can't come."

The servant returned and reported their responses to his master. His master was angry and told the servant, "Go out quickly to the streets and alleys around town and bring the poor, the amputees, the blind, and the cripples."

The servant came back again: "Sir, I've done as you said, but there is still more room." 

And the host said, "Well then, go out to the highways and hedges and bring in the complete strangers you find there, until my house is completely full. One thing is for sure, not one single person on the original guest list shall enjoy this banquet."

(Luke 14:15-24)

Response in Prayer

Almighty God, I accept the offer of grace you have given Me in Jesus! I believe Jesus is Your Son, the long-promised Christ, the Messiah of Israel, and Lord and Savior of the world. I believe Jesus died for my sins, that He was buried, and that He rose on the third day, defeating the power of sin and death to control me through fear. So I commit passionately to follow Jesus and do what He asks of me and rejoice in His grace shared with me. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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"Hard to Truly Follow" — A Year with Jesus for 03/28/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower,

Follower... what an interesting term to use with you. To truly follow Me meant becoming My disciple, someone who spent a lifetime learning to live like Me. There was no cost too great to pay. Now in your day, you can "follow" someone on Twitter or Facebook and not even be a real friend. What you mean in your world about being a "follower" is really that you are a lurker — you can hang around, listen in on conversations, wander in and out of connection with someone, and generally do with that relationship whatever you choose. Not so with "following" Me!

If you are going to follow Me, it's going to cost you because you have to put Me first in... everything. You have to commit to have My character become your character, to have My compassion become your compassion, and to have My story become your story. The problem with following Me is that you inevitably have to face a cross of some kind. You have to resign from living for yourself and commit to be willing to die for Me and My work.

So I am focusing in My words below on the importance of counting the cost of following Me. It will cost you everything... including yourself! Are you ready to pay that cost? I know that many churches and preachers in your day tell you about all the perks in following Me and being a part of their church. It's almost as if they have to tease and entice you into following Me. But don't buy the deception. It's hard following Me. I call you to surrender your life to Me and to My movement.

Count the cost. The cost is high. I use extreme language to drive home My point because there is something I cannot tolerate — something that critics of folks claiming to be My followers can't tolerate — and that is folks who do not live up to what they tell everyone else they must do. Don't be like salt that loses its taste and is worthless. You are called to make a difference in your world as My follower. So count the cost... but never forget, because I paid the high cost of the cross, I made sure through the resurrection that any cost you pay is well worth your investment!
Verses to Live

I always had a tug-of-war going on in My heart over the crowds. They were fickle. Most in the crowd didn't believe; they wanted to see My miracles and be along for the spectacle, but they didn't want to pay the price to follow. So I often used strong words to back them off or send them home... unless, they saw that I had come from God and they truly wanted to follow Me. What are you going to do with these hard words?
Great crowds joined Him [Jesus] on His journey, and He turned to them.

Jesus:
If any of you come to Me without hating your own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, and yes, even your own life, you can’t be My disciple. If you don't carry your own cross as if to your own execution as you follow Me, you can't be part of My movement. Just imagine that you want to build a tower. Wouldn't you first sit down and estimate the cost to be sure you have enough to finish what you start? If you lay the foundation but then can't afford to finish the tower, everyone will mock you: "Look at that guy who started something that he couldn't finish!"

Or imagine a king gearing up to go to war. Wouldn't he begin by sitting down with his advisors to determine whether his 10,000 troops could defeat the opponent's 20,000 troops? If not, he'll send a peace delegation quickly and negotiate a peace treaty. In the same way, if you want to be My disciple, it will cost you everything. Don't underestimate that cost!

Don't be like salt that has lost its taste. How can its saltiness be restored? Flavorless salt is absolutely worthless. You can't even use it as fertilizer, so it's worth less than manure! Don't just listen to My words here. Get the deeper meaning.
(Luke 14:25-35)

Response in Prayer

O Father, I know following Jesus will be filled with hard challenges; not just the challenges of normal life, but the challenges that Jesus' enemies and Satan's allies will throw in my path. Yet, dear Father, I truly want to follow Jesus... to become like Him in how He lived with character and compassion. So I ask for the strengthening of the Holy Spirit to give me added courage and endurance as the Spirit works at conforming me to Jesus, my Rabbi, Savior, and Lord, in whose name I pray. Amen.
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"Joy at Finding What is Lost" — A Year with Jesus for 03/29/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

In the verses today and the next two days, I tell three stories — often called parables — about lost things and lost people. Luke collects them together and you can find them in one powerful chapter of his gospel (Luke 15:1-32). To understand these stories, you need to notice the situation as Luke describes it in his first two verses (Luke 15:1-2).

People who were not normally religious were hearing the call of God and following Me — truly following Me by turning their lives to God and living the character and compassion I was calling them to display in their lives. On the other hand, other people who were normally considered to very religious were critical of Me for having fellowship with these sinners and devoting so much of My time and energy to reaching and teaching them and entering into table fellowship with them.

I told these three stories to speak to these issues. I wanted everyone to know that I love all people. That's why you have seen Me in the houses of Pharisees sharing meals with them and also healing a synagogue ruler's daughter and healing a Roman soldier's servant. It is also why you have seen Me welcome outcasts and the unclean into My fellowship and why I called Matthew — considered to be a sinner because he was a tax collector — to be one of My twelve apostles. You also see men and women, young and old, rich and impoverished, well and sick, powerful and powerless, all receive My attention and My grace.

I have recently reminded you that people count most and that the Father sent Me to give My life on the cross as a ransom for sinners. So as you read My three stories about lost things (a sheep and a coin) and lost people (two sons), remember why I told these three stories. I wanted everyone to know why I joyfully welcomed sinners to repentance and into My fellowship. I also wanted the religious to know that they could be just as lost as those they counted as worse sinners than themselves and their hard hearts toward the sinners who repent indicates this lostness no matter how religious their lives seem. But as most folks know, telling the hard truth to your critics seldom gets to their heart. They tend to raise their defenses and get ready to come back at you rather than listening to you. So I told stories — stories from the way of life these people recognized. These stories remind you that lost people need My grace and when they are found, there is rejoicing in heaven.
Verses to Live

Today you are going to read a simple story about a lost sheep. Yet for a family during My earthly ministry, any lost sheep was a huge loss and could not be allowed. Know that you, dear friend, are much more important to Me and to the Father than any sheep could be to a shepherd. So imagine the joy when the lost sheep was found. That joy pales in comparison to the joy of heaven when any lost person turns to Me.
Jesus became increasingly popular among notorious sinners — tax collectors and other social outcasts. The Pharisees and religious scholars noticed this.

Pharisees and Religious Scholars:
This man welcomes immoral people and enjoys their company over a meal!

Jesus (with another parable):
Wouldn't every single one of you, if you have 100 sheep and lose one, leave the 99 in their grazing lands and go out searching for the lost sheep until you find it? When you find the lost sheep, wouldn't you hoist it up on your shoulders, feeling wonderful? And when you go home, wouldn't you call together your friends and neighbors? Wouldn't you say, "Come over and celebrate with me, because I've found my lost sheep"? This is how it is in heaven. They're happier over one sinner who changes his way of life than they are over 99 good and just people who don't need to change their ways of life.

(Luke 15:1-7)
Response in Prayer

Father, I am touched by two truths of this simple parable and the reason Jesus told it. First, I am reminded just how precious I am to you and why you paid such a high price to save me. No words are adequate to express my deepest appreciation, but please know that I thank You for welcoming me into Your family and rejoicing with the angels when I came to Jesus. In addition, dear Father, I am convicted of how deeply you care about the lost around me and I know you have placed me in the relationships that I have so that I can help them meet Jesus and follow Him. Please help me, dear Father, to keep my heart open to the lost around me so that I can help them find Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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"The Lost Coin" — A Year with Jesus for 03/30/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God,

How precious is a child? What is the value of a human life? What is one person worth?

If you want to know the true answer to those questions, watch Me in the coming few weeks as you read My story.

Notice what I'm willing to do — be humiliated and hung on a cross when I had the power to prevent it.

Notice the price I'm willing to pay — I give up My will in order to honor the will of the Father and pay the price for the sin of all humankind for all of time.

Notice what I'm willing to bear — being betrayed by one of My own, having My greatest potential leader deny he even knew Me at all, and being abandoned by all of My apostles so I had to go to the cross alone.

So don't miss My key point found in all three of My stories Luke brings together for you (Luke 15:1-32), especially the one I want you to focus upon today, the story of the lost coin. Here's My key point for My disciples who are willing to join Me in searching for those who are lost:
There is joy in the presence of all God's messengers over even one sinner who changes his way of life.
Verses to Live

I don't need to spend many words today to help you see My key point. Don't miss learning it, being moved by it, and putting it into practice. Notice especially a few words that powerfully emphasize this key point of each of My stories: Search! Diligently! Found! Celebrate! Joy! All! Even one!
Jesus (with another parable):
Or imagine a woman who has 10 silver coins. She loses one. Doesn't she light a lamp, sweep the whole house, and search diligently until that coin is found? And when she finds it, doesn't she invite her friends and neighbors and say, "Celebrate with me! I've found that silver coin that I lost"? Can't you understand? There is joy in the presence of all God's messengers over even one sinner who changes his way of life.

(Luke 15:8-10)
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank you for the joy of seeing (please use specific names here) being brought to Christ and being saved. I ask that you use me to be an encouragement and help to others so that they will come to Jesus and we can share in the celebration and joy of heaven together. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sun 23 Mar 2014, 7:18 pm

"Don't Miss My Invitation" — A Year with Jesus for 03/23/2014

Note from Jesus

My Dear Disciple,

Listen to My words for you today. They come out of the crucible of My conflict with the religious leaders and their humiliation with trying to embarrass Me. My words have power. I was heading toward Jerusalem and the horrors that were waiting for Me there. People were fascinated by what I said and they celebrated the wonderful things, the miraculous things that I was doing.

So I planted a promise in their hearts to help them understand that the power they were experiencing with My physical presence was not going to go away after My work in Jerusalem was accomplished and I returned to the Father. They were part of a new order of things in the world. They were part of My Father's kingdom — the place and people where God's will reigned over their hearts and they found joy in the Father's presence. The kingdom power available to them might look small at the beginning of things — no bigger than a tiny mustard seed or a little bit of yeast. Yet, all the great things that they were experiencing right then with My presence, My miraculous deeds and powerful teaching, were just a small glimpse of the coming greatness and gloriousness that is to come. Their power may seem small, but it will grow and permeate and bring great blessing to many.

So don't miss My great offer of the kingdom. When I return, I will be bring all peoples from all places in the world who have come to believe in me. That, dear friend, is a celebration you definitely don't want to miss!
Verses to Live

While the religious leaders had done all they could to wall off My teaching from others, the sheer power of the kingdom that was behind My words could not be contained. My blessing, My power, My kingdom would not be based on religious pedigree or social acceptance, but upon people surrendering their hearts to Me and giving their lives to be My disciples. The old order of power and position will be reversed, and those who follow Me will be exalted, not mocked, belittled, ridiculed, and persecuted. So don't miss My invitation to follow Me!
As the impact of His words settled in, His critics were humiliated, but everyone else loved what Jesus said and celebrated everything He was doing.

Jesus (explaining):
Do you want to understand the kingdom of God? Do you want Me to tell you what it's like? It's like a single mustard seed that someone took and planted in his garden. That tiny seed grew and became a tree so large that the birds could fly in and make their nests in its branches.

Do you want Me to tell you what the kingdom of God is like? It's like some yeast which a woman hid within a huge quantity of flour; soon the whole batch of dough was rising.

He was pressing toward Jerusalem, His journey taking Him through various towns and villages. In each one, He taught the people. Once a person asked this question:

Inquiring Individual:
Lord, will only a few people be rescued?

Jesus:
Strive to enter through the narrow door now, because many people — hear Me on this — will try to enter later on and will not be able to. Imagine you want to enter someone's home, but you wait until after the homeowner has shut the door. Then you stand outside and bang on the door, and you say, "Sir, please open the door for us!" But he will answer, "I don't know where you're from."

Then you'll say, "Just a minute. We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets."

But he'll say, "Sorry, I have no idea where you're from. Leave me, all of you evildoers." 

Then you'll see something that will make you cry and grind your teeth together — you'll see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves will be on the outside looking in.

And then you'll see people streaming in from east and west, from north and south, gathering around the table in the kingdom of God, but you'll be on the outside looking in. That's how it will be; some are last now who will be first then, and some are first now who will be last then.

(Luke 13:18-30)
Response in Prayer

O Father, there are times when Your kingdom way of life does not seem to get much respect. As I open my heart to Jesus each day, I invite the Holy Spirit to strengthen my faith, my hope, and my desire to live your character and compassion in a world that feels so devoid of both. I believe, but please strengthen my belief. I hope, but stir my heart to a greater anticipation of the day when my faith becomes sight. I trust in your mustard seed promise and the power of your holy work like yeast, but please help me see glimpses of Your coming glory as I serve you in the grittiness of my everyday world. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

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"The Good Shepherd" — A Year with Jesus for 03/21/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious One,

Few passages of Scripture were more beloved in My time on earth than the twenty-third Psalm. Like in your day, many found great comfort knowing that the Great Shepherd was watching over them, caring for them, sustaining them, giving them rest, and bringing them safely home to Him:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

(Psalm 23:1-6 ESV)

So when I claim to be the "Good Shepherd" my words are heard against the background of the twenty-third psalm. At the same time, My words about being the "Good Shepherd" are speaking on several different levels of emphasis. Each level is important. Each conveys a powerful truth about Me — My identity, My power, and My sacrifice.

First, by claiming to be the "Good Shepherd" I AM claiming to be God, the Shepherd of the twenty-third Psalm! Clearly this was offensive to many faithful Jews for whom the Shepherd psalm was precious and personal. That is why some accused Me of being a "raving maniac"!

Second, notice the specific personal knowledge that I have of My sheep and they have of Me. I know them. I call them by name. They hear My voice and recognize Me. They follow Me. The don't trust a stranger because they know My voice and I lead by going out ahead of them and calling them by name.

Third, there were bad shepherds among My people. I call them "hired hands" as well as "thieves and robbers"! They are bad shepherds like the ones described by the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 34:1-41). The religious leaders who were so opposed to Me knew I was talking about them and were about to completely reject Me.

Fourth, I lay down My life for the life of My sheep. In going to the cross willingly, I lay down My life to give life to My flock. No one could take it from me, but I lay it down because I love My sheep and I want to honor the Father. But, when I lay My life down, I will also take it back up again — I have the power to rise from the dead!

A list, however, of the things I taught cannot compare to Who I AM and what it means for Me to be your Shepherd. As wonderful and precious the words "The Lord is my shepherd..." may be to you, please know and feel the great love I have for you as your Shepherd. The twenty-third Psalm takes on so much deeper meaning when you truly understand that I AM your "Good Shepherd" and that I bring you everything promised in the twenty-third psalm and everything promised in My words below. On top of everything else, I offered up My life to show you that both My words and My love are real.
Verses to Live

Take all the wonderful promises of the twenty-third Psalm and add all the incredible promises you find in My words below and know that these promises, that My comforting and guiding presence, are yours!
Jesus:
I tell you the truth: the man who crawls through the fence of the sheep pen, rather than walking through the gate, is a thief or a vandal. The shepherd walks openly through the entrance. The guard who is posted to protect the sheep opens the gate for the shepherd, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When all the sheep have been gathered, he walks on ahead of them; and they follow him because they know his voice. The sheep would not be willing to follow a stranger; they run because they do not know the voice of a stranger.

Jesus explained a profound truth through this metaphor, but they did not understand His teaching. So He explained further.

Jesus:
I tell you the truth: I am the gate of the sheep. All who approached the sheep before Me came as thieves and robbers, and the sheep did not listen to their voices. I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be liberated, will go in and go out, and will find pastures. The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep in His care. The hired hand is not like the shepherd caring for His own sheep. When a wolf attacks, snatching and scattering the sheep, he runs for his life, leaving them defenseless. The hired hand runs because he works only for wages and does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know My sheep, and My sheep know Me. As the Father knows Me, I know the Father; I will give My life for the sheep. There are many more sheep than you can see here, and I will bring them as well. They will hear My voice, and the flock will be united. One flock. One shepherd. The Father loves Me because I am willing to lay down My life — but I will take it up again. My life cannot be taken away by anybody else; I am giving it of My own free will. My authority allows Me to give My life and to take it again. All this has been commanded by My Father.

When He spoke these words, some of the Jews began to argue.

Many Jews:
He has a demon and is a raving maniac. Why are you people listening to Him?

Other Jews:
No demon-possessed man ever spoke like this. Do demons give sight to the blind?

(John 10:1-21)
Response in Prayer

O God — Father, Son, and Spirit — shepherd me. I promise to listen for Your voice and to follow no other spiritual guide but You. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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"Look Closely at the Evidence!" — A Year with Jesus for 03/22/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Devoted Follower,

My words have always provoked strong reactions! I do not leave people any middle ground for their decision about Me. There is no "safe" place they can put me in the middle as a good man and good teacher. I AM claiming to be the Son of God in this encounter with the crowd. I AM saying that what I do and speak I have received directly from My Father in heaven. I AM claiming that every disciple that I have was given to Me by My Father. So every contemporary Jewish person that heard Me that day knew that I was claiming to be God walking and teaching among them. So they responded to My question about what good thing they were going to kill Me for doing:
We demand Your life because You are a man, yet you claim to be God. This is blasphemy!

As an experienced rabbi familiar with their way of arguing about the meaning of Scripture, I give them two reasons why I can make such a claim:

First, I used a good Rabbi defense strategy: I quote a passage that shows that others had been called "sons of God" and they were not punished for their claim, so I shouldn't be punished for My claim. This argument is technically correct using their type of reasoning used in rabbinic discussion. However, most of those listening knew that I was claiming and demonstrating that I AM much more than one of many "sons" of God: I AM THE Son of the God!

Second, I could call God My Father because what I claimed about Myself was validated by what I did! When you examined the great things that I did, the authoritative truths that I taught, and the way that I lived, you saw that My actions validated My words. Notice what I said to My doubters and My critics:
Examine My actions, and you will see that My work is the work of the Father. Regardless of whether you believe in Me — believe the miracles.

Despite My opponents anger at these claims, they could not disprove them. They were left to try to kill Me, but they couldn't do so. The time wasn't right. The Father wouldn't let them. I wasn't ready to lay My life down, so they couldn't take it. So as I continued with My ministry, many others believed in Me.
Verses to Live

What are you going to do with Me? You can choose not to read My story in the gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — but My story won't go away. People will keep making movies about Me, they will keep talking about Me, they will be fascinated by Me, and many will come to full faith in Me. So what are you going to do? My claims are extravagant, even blasphemous, if they are not true. Yet if they are true, then everything rides on your decision about Me! So look closely at the evidence — not just the evidence in the verses that follow, but at everything I said and did, the movement I left behind, the weak and fearful men and women who became bold and were willing to be martyred. What explains it? What was their belief about Me that led them to risk everything to be My disciples?
When He [Jesus] spoke these words, some of the Jews began to argue.

It was winter and time for the Festival of Dedication. While in Jerusalem, Jesus was walking through the temple in an area known as Solomon’s porch, and Jews gathered around Him.

Jews:
How long are You going to keep us guessing? If You are God’s Anointed, the Liberating King, announce it clearly.

Jesus:
I have told you, and you do not believe. The works I am doing in My Father’s name tell the truth about Me. You do not listen; you lack faith because you are not My sheep. My sheep respond as they hear My voice; I know them intimately, and they follow Me. I give them a life that is unceasing, and death will not have the last word. Nothing or no one can steal them from My hand. My Father has given the flock to Me, and He is superior to all beings and things. No one is powerful enough to snatch the flock from My Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.

The Jews gathered stones to execute Jesus right then and there.

Jesus:
I have performed many beautiful works before you in the name of the Father. Which of these can be judged as an offense that merits My execution?

Jews:
You are not condemned for performing miracles. We demand Your life because You are a man, yet you claim to be God. This is blasphemy!

Jesus:
You know what is written in the Scriptures. Doesn’t it read, “I said, you are gods”? If the Scriptures called your ancestors (mere mortals) gods to whom the word of God came — and the Scriptures cannot be set aside — what should you call One who is unique, sanctified by and sent from the Father into the world? I have said, “I am God’s Son.” How can you call that blasphemy? By all means, do not believe in Me, if I am not doing the things of the Father. But examine My actions, and you will see that My work is the work of the Father. Regardless of whether you believe in Me — believe the miracles. Then you will know that the Father is in Me, and I am in the Father.

Once again, some of the Jews tried to capture Him, but He slipped away, eluding their grasp. Jesus crossed the Jordan River and returned to the place where John was ritually cleansing the people through baptism in the early days. He lingered in the area, and scores of people gathered around Him.

Crowds:
John never performed any miracles, but every word he spoke about this man has come to pass. It is all true!

In that place, many believed in Him.

(John 10:22-42)
Response in Prayer

Holy and righteous Father, I confess that some days the urgency of my faith is simply not there. I feel blah, You seem distant to me, and the Holy Spirit's presence in my life seems to have vanished. I pray that You, O Father, make me thirsty for You. I give You the invitation to make me hungry for Your presence, Your word, Your Son, and Your Spirit. Bring people into my life to shake me out of my mediocrity and moments of spiritual laziness. Restore my passion by reawakening me to Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 20 Mar 2014, 10:21 pm

Opening Blind Eyes #3" — A Year with Jesus for 03/20/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

The two previous days, I have had you look at John's account of the man-born-blind that I healed. We've seen how people can willfully be blind to the people in need around them. Instead of viewing each person as someone in whom "the deeds of God may be put on display" (John 9:3), they treat those people as something less — a religious question, a label, a problem, or a biological product — than as a person created in Our image. Today, I want you to focus on the journey to faith of the man whom I healed of blindness — both his physical blindness and his spiritual blindness.

His journey toward faith began as a person in need. I healed his physical blindness and he began his journey toward his spiritual blindness being healed. You can follow this man's journey to faith by watching what he says about me:
"a man named Jesus" (John 9:11)

"not a lawbreaking scoundrel" (John 9:16) 
"this man is a prophet" (John 9:17)

"I only know one thing: I was blind but now I see" (John 9:17)

"This man must come from God" (John 9:33)

"Lord, I do believe" (that You are the Son of Man — Messiah and Lord — promised to us) (John 9:38)

I want you to look at this man's journey of faith. Many of you have made a similar journey in what you believed about Me. Others you are trying to reach with My grace are somewhere on this journey. Use gentle persistence to lead them to a deeper understanding of My identity.

Notice a couple of things about this man's coming to faith — that while I wasn't with him, he was still coming to a deeper understanding of My identity and even at the end of the journey he couldn't explain everything about Me, but he had a determined faith in Me. Realize that when you are not with those you are trying to lead to faith that the Spirit is working in their lives through what others do and say — even if it is hostile. Realize that while your friend may not be able to explain everything about Me, your friend can point to the clear changes in his or her life, along with the care that you have given to them, as rock solid evidence of what they believe about Me.

You have heard Me previously tell you that people have to decide whether I am a lunatic that is delusional about his identity, a liar who is trying to take advantage of people for his own good, or that I AM the Lord. That is ultimately the decision that people have to make about Me. So help your friends stay on the journey of faith and be there to help them come to the full understanding of My identity. As you work in their lives to lead them to faith, know that you are not alone: I AM there with you and with them — when you are not present — helping them journey to full and saving faith.
Verses to Live

Formerly Blind Man:
This man must come from God; otherwise, this miracle would not be possible. Only God can do such things.

Notice how the Pharisees push this man to give up what he knows is true. The man never yields to them. He doesn't back down. The Pharisees cannot defeat his logic nor can they discredit the truth of his miracle. So they end up doing what many do to you today. They ostracize him and call him names. Don't be surprised when they do that to you. Just realize that when they have to resort to belittling you with name-calling they have lost the battle and are left to pettiness and living in their own willful blindness.Pharisees:
You were born under a cloud of sin. How can you, of all people, lecture us?

The religious leaders banished him from their presence. Jesus heard what had happened and sought out the man.

Jesus:
Do you believe in the Son of Man?

Formerly Blind Man:
I want to believe, Lord. Who is He?

Jesus:
You have seen His face with your new eyes, and you are talking to Him now.

Formerly Blind Man:
Lord, I do believe.

The man bowed low to worship Jesus.

Jesus:
I have entered this world to announce a verdict that changes everything. Now those without sight may begin to see, and those who see may become blind.

Some Pharisees (who overheard Jesus):
Surely we are not blind, are we?

Jesus:
If you were blind, you would be without sin. But because you claim you can see, your sin is ever present.

(John 9:33-41)
Response in Prayer

O Father, I thank You for my own journey of faith. I ask that You help me as I try to walk with others on their own journey toward faith in You. Please be at work in the following people's lives that I want to see come to faith in Jesus as their Savior and Lord and as Your Son. (Think for a minute of people to bring before the Father who need to know Jesus and mention them by name.) Help each of these people to come to full faith in Jesus. I pray this in His name. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 19 Mar 2014, 1:08 pm

"Opening Blind Eyes #1" — A Year with Jesus for 03/18/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Seeker of Truth,

Yesterday I shared My frustration with the religious leaders who added their own regulations to the commandments of the Law and made those regulations more important than caring for a woman who had been bound by a broken body for 18 years. As you read the verses below, notice how My disciples come close to doing the same thing. Rather than recognizing the difficulty of being blind and then caring for the blind man, My disciples asked an insensitive religious question about him within his hearing:
Teacher, who sinned? Who is responsible for this man's blindness? Did he commit sins that merited this punishment? If not his sins, is it the sins of his parents?


My disciples did not view this blind-since-birth man as someone in whom the deeds of God's grace needed to be displayed. Instead, they used him as the pretext for a religious discussion. To them, the man and his problems were nothing more than a religious question — a question that cost them nothing. They spent no time ministering to his needs, caring for him as a child of God in need, or compassionately visiting with the man. He was just the object of their religious conversation. Anything that you do to objectify another person and treat that person as less than someone created in Our image is dehumanizing. No one should be reduced to little more than a topic of religious conversation between people who have no real interest in helping them.

You are placed into the circle of relationships in which you find yourself to make a difference in the lives of the people around you. Listen to the conversations around you. Ask the Spirit to open your eyes to see the "blind men" that other people around you miss, objectify, or turn into nothing more than a matter for discussion. Look for ways to serve these people that demonstrate My love and grace.
Verses to Live

The verses that follow begin a series of events that involved My healing a man who was born blind and occurred as a result of that healing. Notice how I treat this man as someone in whom "the deeds of God may be put on display", yet nearly all the people he meets treat him as less than a person created in the image of God.
While walking along the road, Jesus saw a man who was blind since his birth.

Disciples:
Teacher, who sinned? Who is responsible for this man's blindness? Did he commit sins that merited this punishment? If not his sins, is it the sins of his parents?

Jesus:
Neither. His blindness cannot be explained or traced to any particular person's sins. He is blind so the deeds of God may be put on display. While it is daytime, we must do the works of the One who sent Me. But when the sun sets and night falls, this work is impossible. Whenever I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.

After He said these things, He spat on the ground and mixed saliva and dirt to form mud, which He smeared across the blind man's eyes.

Jesus (to the blind man):
Go, wash yourself in the pool of Siloam.

Siloam means "sent," and its name reminded us that his healing was sent by God. The man went, washed, and returned to Jesus, his eyes now alive with sight. Then neighbors and others who knew him were confused to see a man so closely resembling the blind beggar running about.

Townspeople:
Isn't this the man we see every day sitting and begging in the streets?

Others:
This is the same man.

Still Others:
This cannot be him. But this fellow bears an uncanny resemblance to the blind man.

Formerly Blind Man:
I am the same man. It's me!

Townspeople:
How have your lifeless eyes been opened?

Formerly Blind Man:
A man named Jesus approached me and made mud from the ground and applied it to my eyes. He then said to me, "Go, wash yourself in the pool of Siloam." I went and washed, and suddenly I could see.

Townspeople:
Where is this man who healed you?

Formerly Blind Man:
I don't know.

(John 9:1-12)
Response in Prayer

O God, help me see the people that You place in my path each day — the very people that You placed there so that I can share Your grace with them. Forgive me when I have treated others as little more than a religious or political or social question and have not heard Your call to love them into Your family. Open my eyes and my heart to see the people others neglect and ignore. Please use me to give them hope and to share a touch of Your grace with them. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Opening Blind Eyes #2" — A Year with Jesus for 03/19/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

I want you to notice the different ways people in this story viewed the "man-born-blind" that you find in your Bibles (John 9:1-41):
My disciples looked at him as a religious question — was he born blind because of his sins or his parents?

The people viewed him as a label — to them, he was a blind beggar.

The Pharisees saw the man as a problem — Jesus had healed him on the Sabbath, something that broke their regulations, but they couldn't use the man to get Jesus into trou! ble.

The man's parents treated the man as little more than their biological product and not a son — their fear of being put out of the synagogue prevented them from speaking up for their son.

Each of these was a way that the people around the now healed man-born-blind viewed him. This was their blindness, a willful blindness to the man's needs. These are also ways you can view people, ways that will keep you blind to their needs and your opportunity to help those people in My name.

Which one of the following are you are most likely to use to be willfully blind toward a person in need?
Viewing them as nothing more than a religious question?

Assigning a label so you don't have to deal with them personally?

Treating them as a problem that needs to be solved or overcome?

Viewing them as nothing more than a biological product rather than a person to be protected and loved?

I call you to open your eyes to the people in need around you. I call you to treat each of these people as someone in whom "the deeds of God may be put on display" (John 9:3) and with whom God's love can be shared. To do less is simply... Pharisaical!
Verses to Live

After fielding My disciple's religious question about the man-born-blind, I healed him. This made the Pharisees angry because I violated their regulations about the Sabbath. Instead of rejoicing that a blind man could now see, these religious leaders tried to bully him into condemning me for healing him. They weren't ready for what they were about to get from him — a simple theology of faith and truth that trumped their entrenched traditions and embarrassed them into banishing him and calling him names.
Townspeople to the man born blind:
Where is this man who healed you?

Formerly Blind Man:
I don't know.

The townspeople brought the formerly blind beggar to appear before the Pharisees the same day Jesus healed him, which happened to be on the Sabbath Day. The Pharisees began questioning him, looking for some explanation for how he could now see.

Formerly Blind Man:
He smeared mud on my eyes, and I washed; now I see.

Some Pharisees:
God can't possibly be behind this man because He is breaking the rules of the Sabbath.

Other Pharisees:
How can such a lawbreaking scoundrel do something like this?

The Pharisees were at odds with one another about Jesus and could not agree whether His power came from God or the devil.

Pharisees (to the formerly blind man):
What do you say about this man, about the fact He opened your eyes so you could see?

Formerly Blind Man:
I have no doubt — this man is a prophet.

Some of the Jews suspected the whole situation was a charade, that this man was never blind. So they summoned the man's parents to testify about his condition.

Pharisees:
Is this man your son? Do you testify that he has been blind from birth? How therefore does he now see?


Parents:
We can tell you this much: he is our son, and he was born blind. But his new sight is a complete mystery to us! We do not know the man who opened his eyes. Why don't you ask our son? He is old enough to speak for himself.

The man's parents were a bit evasive because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. It had been rumored that anyone who spoke of Jesus as the Anointed One would be expelled from the synagogue. So they deferred the thorny question to their son, and the Pharisees called on him a second time.

Pharisees:
Give God the credit. He's the One who healed you. All glory belongs to God. We are persuaded this man you speak of is a sinner who defies God.

Formerly Blind Man:
If this man is a sinner, I don't know. I am not qualified to say. I only know one thing: I was blind, and now I see.

Pharisees:
What did He do to you? How did He give you sight?

Formerly Blind Man:
Listen, I've already answered all these questions, and you don't like my answers. Do you really need me to say it all over again? Are you thinking about joining up with Him and becoming His followers?

Pharisees (berating him):
You're one of His followers, but we follow Moses. We have confidence that God spoke to Moses, but this man you speak of is a mystery; we don't even know where He comes from.

Formerly Blind Man:
Isn't it ironic that you, our religious leaders, don't even know where He comes from; yet He gave me sight! We know that God does not listen to sinners, but He does respond and work through those who worship Him and do His will. No one has ever heard of someone opening the eyes of any person blind from birth. This man must come from God; otherwise, this miracle would not be possible. Only God can do such things.

Pharisees:
You were born under a cloud of sin. How can you, of all people, lecture us?

The religious leaders banished him from their presence.

(John 9:12-34)
Response in Prayer

O Father, please forgive me. Forgive me for blindly looking past people in need. Open my eyes and my heart to see each person as someone in whom "the deeds of God may be put on display". Please use me to be a person through whom Your deeds of grace and mercy flow. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Mon 17 Mar 2014, 10:18 pm

"One Last Season for Fruit?" — A Year with Jesus for 03/16/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Believer,

In your day, people have really toned down some of My message in order to be more politically correct. Remember, however, that the religious leaders of My day killed Me because they knew I was dangerous to their way of doing things. I never taught or preached violence. In fact, My voluntary submission to the cross should tell you a lot about My heart in this matter. In fact, I told When the soldiers came to arrest Me in the Garden of Gethsemane — right before My trials and crucifixion — Peter grabbed a sword and was ready to fight to protect Me. I told him to put away the sword, that I would not be using violence as a means of My own protectionJohn 18:3-11).

I was a dangerous threat to the Jewish religious leaders because I was transforming lives and gathering a following of devoted disciples. I was dangerous because I called out the leaders for their hypocrisy and self-serving ways. I was dangerous because they could not deny or explain away My power. I was dangerous because the people in the crowds were interested in My identity.

Yet hear this with your heart, please: I ached for My people and My country and My city. I knew they were on the road to destruction. I knew time was short. I knew they could repent — truly change from the inside out — if they would give themselves over to the Father's will and follow Me. For three years I taught, told stories, preached, counseled, visited, healed, shepherded, and cared for the needy, the broken, the outcast, the sinner, and the commoner. Many were coming to faith in Me. I went to the houses of the rich, I met with powerful religious leaders to discuss truth, and I even healed valued family members of both Jewish and Roman leaders. Some of these came to faith in Me. The problem was that I also confronted the religious establishment, I rightly called them hypocrites, I challenged their legalistic answers that departed from the Father's will, and I called them to repentance. John the Baptist, My cousin whom Herod executed, spent time warning of the need for repentance and preparing the people for My coming. Many had changed their hearts and their lives to be ready for Me. Not so for most of those in power.

In the verses that follow, you will hear two stories about disasters and then you find a parable about a fig tree. The stories about disasters are reminders that bad things happen to good people. If destruction can befall them and they are undeserving of their hardships, how much more will destruction come to those who ignore, resist, and try to extinguish the Voice of God — Me, Jesus of Nazareth, God come in human flesh!

In the parable about the fig tree, I share a not so subtle warning: God's people must repent or our precious city of Jerusalem will face destruction. Such a thought gave Me great anguish. Salvation was on the doorstep of My people and they chose the power of Rome over Me — Rome, that terrible lion of a country that had oppressed them for decades, would tear them apart and leave no stone standing.

With My heart breaking for such impending disaster, I shared a parable about asking the owner of the vineyard — a reference the people in My time would recognize as God (the Father) — to give the people more time to turn their hearts toward Him. As the "vineyard keeper" in the parable, I asked for one last season for the people of Jerusalem — the "fig tree" — to bear fruit for God. I worked to bring My people to repentance and save the city of David. I gave My people another opportunity to turn their hearts toward Me and find the salvation the Father wanted to bring them. Unfortunately, they would not.
Verses to Live

You face a hard challenge as you read the verses that follow. The warnings that I made were not heeded and destruction came for Jerusalem. So how do you apply them? 

Let My words fall on your heart and ask the Holy Spirit to use them to speak to those things in your own heart that you have not yet surrendered to Me. Any other sources on which you rely for salvation will prove false. Any other source of ultimate meaning and purpose for your life will prove shallow. So let these words remind you of the theme over the last several days: urgency! Don't put off your commitment to holy transformation that your life needs. Don't waste another day!
As He said this, some people told Him the latest news about a group of Galilean pilgrims in Jerusalem — a group not unlike Jesus' own entourage. Pilate butchered them while they were at worship, their own blood mingling with the blood of their sacrifices.

Jesus:
Do you think these Galileans were somehow being singled out for their sins, that they were worse than any other Galileans, because they suffered this terrible death? Of course not. But listen, if you do not consider God's ways and truly change, then friends, you should prepare to face His judgment and eternal death.

Speaking of current events, you've all heard about the 18 people killed in that building accident when the tower in Siloam fell. Were they extraordinarily bad people, worse than anyone else in Jerusalem, so that they would deserve such an untimely death? Of course not. But all the buildings of Jerusalem will come crashing down on you if you don't wake up and change direction now.

(following up with this parable) A man has a fig tree planted in his vineyard. One day he comes out looking for fruit on it, but there are no figs. He says to the vineyard keeper, "Look at this tree. For three years, I've come hoping to find some fresh figs, but what do I find? Nothing. So just go ahead and cut it down. Why waste the space with a fruitless tree?"

The vineyard keeper replies, "Give it another chance, sir. Give me one more year working with it. I'll cultivate the soil and heap on some manure to fertilize it. If it surprises us and bears fruit next year, that will be great, but if not, then we'll cut it down."

(Luke 13:1-9)
Response in Prayer

O Father, have Your Spirit use Jesus' words to convict me of any idols that I may have in my heart. I want to have an undivided heart for You. I want to depend solely and confidently on Jesus for my salvation. In You, O God — Father, Son, and Spirit — have I put my trust. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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   Truth Brings Celebration and Hostility" — A Year with Jesus for 03/17/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

We — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — instituted the Sabbath to be a blessing to Our people and those who lived among them. The Sabbath gave My people a day each week when they, their families, their children, and their workers rested from their labor, remembered the Father who richly provided for them, and were renewed in spirit. The Sabbath was made to bless people and to honor Us.

This principle doesn't seem so hard to understand, but the practice of it by these religious leaders during My time on earth was so far from Our plan for the Sabbath that it made Me angry. How could the Jewish religious leaders interpret Our principles for the Sabbath and then turn the Sabbath into a day for a sick person to stay sick and a broken person to stay broken. These same religious leaders fed and watered their animals on the Sabbath. They pulled their animals out of a ditch and searched for them when they were lost on the Sabbath. Surely... surely... these religious leaders could see the duplicity in their ways and their errors of interpretation. But, they didn't. They were furious with me when I healed this woman on a Sabbath and broke their regulations! When I confronted them on their hypocrisy, they were humiliated. The people, however, loved what I said and celebrated what I had done when I healed this crippled woman.
Verses to Live

Don't just read the words that follow. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you feel what is happening and visualize the expression on the faces of different people in the story. Look at the broken posture of this woman before I healed her. Imagine her gait as she shuffled toward Me. How could anyone with power to help, not help? How could anyone claiming to be religious refuse this woman a simple but powerful act of kindness?
Around this time, He was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath, the Jewish day of rest. A woman there had been sick for 18 years; she was weak, hunched over, and unable to stand up straight. Jesus placed His hands on her and suddenly she could stand straight again. She started praising God, but the synagogue official was indignant because Jesus had not kept their Sabbath regulations by performing this healing.

Synagogue Official:
Look, there are six other days when it's appropriate to get work done. Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath!

Jesus:
You religious leaders are such hypocrites! Every single one of you unties his ox or donkey from its manger every single Sabbath Day, and then you lead it out to get a drink of water, right? Do you care more about your farm animals than you care about this woman, one of Abraham's daughters, oppressed by Satan for 18 years? Can't we untie her from her oppression on the Sabbath?

As the impact of His words settled in, His critics were humiliated, but everyone else loved what Jesus said and celebrated everything He was doing.

(Luke 13:10-17)
Response in Prayer

O Father, help me value people the way that Jesus did. Help me draw others into celebrating Your greatness and grace by helping those in need. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 12:42 pm

A Year with Jesus for 03/13/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious One,

Yesterday, I spoke to you about fear. Today I want to talk to you about worry. Actually, I want to talk with you about the sin that lies behind so many of your worries: greed! Listen carefully as I remind you of three key principles you will see in the verses below. I gave these principles to My disciples to help them defeat the power of worry in their lives. Please know, Luke wrote about these three principles to help you defeat worry, too!

Principle 1:
You'd better be on your guard against any type of greed, for a person's life is not about having a lot of possessions.

Greed is insidious and destructive — in fact, it is a form of idolatry. Greed means the things you have now are never enough. Greed opens the door for you to trample all over people to get things. Greed makes you think you deserve and own the things that you have, rather than seeing them as blessings from Us — Father, Son, and Spirit — to be used to bring the influence of Our kingdom into your fallen world.

Principle 2:
Don't let your mind be filled with anxiety. People of the world who don't know God pursue these things, but you have a Father caring for you, a Father who knows all your needs.

When I spoke to you yesterday about fear, I reminded you that you are precious to Us. Please remember that truth. Why would the Father send Me to be sacrificed for you if you were not precious? Why would I pour the Holy Spirit upon you, to live within you, if you are not precious to us? With so many less important things in your world that receive Our gracious provision, why would we ever abandon you when you are so precious to Us?

Principle 3:
Pursue God's kingdom first and foremost, and these other things will come to you as well. My little flock, don't be afraid. God is your Father, and your Father's great joy is to give you His kingdom.

Worry is often the byproduct of having your focus on the wrong things. If your consuming passion is to follow Me and to bring the gracious benefits of My kingdom to your broken world, then you are not going to have time to focus on temporary stuff that doesn't matter. Love people like I have loved you. Honor the Father with all of your heart. When you focus on these two important things, all the other things in your life will fall into their proper place.
Verses to Live

Here are My words about worry. Remember My three principles; they are not simply suggestions to you, but they are given to help you find life.
Person in the Crowd:
Teacher, intervene and tell my brother to share the family inheritance with me.

Jesus:
Since when am I your judge or arbitrator?

Then He used that opportunity to speak to the crowd.

Jesus:
You'd better be on your guard against any type of greed, for a person's life is not about having a lot of possessions.

(then, beginning another parable) A wealthy man owned some land that produced a huge harvest. He often thought to himself, "I have a problem here. I don't have anywhere to store all my crops. What should I do? I know! I'll tear down my small barns and build even bigger ones, and then I'll have plenty of storage space for my grain and all my other goods. Then I'll be able to say to myself, 'I have it made! I can relax and take it easy for years! So I'll just sit back, eat, drink, and have a good time! ' "

Then God interrupted the man's conversation with himself. "Excuse Me, Mr. Brilliant, but your time has come. Tonight you will die. Now who will enjoy everything you've earned and saved?"

This is how it will be for people who accumulate huge assets for themselves but have no assets in relation to God.

(then, to His disciples) This is why I keep telling you not to worry about anything in life — about what you'll eat, about how you'll clothe your body. Life is more than food, and the body is more than fancy clothes. Think about those crows flying over there: do they plant and harvest crops? Do they own silos or barns? Look at them fly. It looks like God is taking pretty good care of them, doesn't it? Remember that you are more precious to God than birds! Which one of you can add a single hour to your life or 18 inches to your height by worrying really hard? If worry can't change anything, why do you do it so much?

Think about those beautiful wild lilies growing over there. They don't work up a sweat toiling for needs or wants — they don't worry about clothing. Yet the great King Solomon never had an outfit that was half as glorious as theirs!

Look at the grass growing over there. One day it's thriving in the fields. The next day it's being used as fuel. If God takes such good care of such transient things, how much more you can depend on God to care for you, weak in faith as you are. Don't reduce your life to the pursuit of food and drink; don't let your mind be filled with anxiety. People of the world who don't know God pursue these things, but you have a Father caring for you, a Father who knows all your needs.

Since you don't need to worry — about security and safety, about food and clothing— then pursue God's kingdom first and foremost, and these other things will come to you as well.

My little flock, don't be afraid. God is your Father, and your Father's great joy is to give you His kingdom.

That means you can sell your possessions and give generously to the poor. You can have a different kind of savings plan: one that never depreciates, one that never defaults, one that can't be plundered by crooks or destroyed by natural calamities. Your treasure will be stored in the heavens, and since your treasure is there, your heart will be lodged there as well

(Luke 12:13-34)
Response in Prayer

Holy Spirit, please empower me as I seek to have an undivided heart that is committed to the Father. Lord Jesus, I commit to live Your words as I seek to rid my life of worry and as I remember Your promise that I am precious to You. I confess, Father, that the things of this world are tantalizing to me; they pull at my heart and I sometimes think that they can bring joy to my life. I know from experience and from Your word, dear Father, that these are shallow and fleeting joys, so forgive me for my greed as I seek to place You and Your kingdom as my highest priorities. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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"A Different Kind of Savings Plan" — A Year with Jesus for 03/14/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

As I will say in the verses below, what I am talking to you about today is a matter of urgency:
I'm not just talking theory. There is urgency in all this.
I am calling you to live by a different economy than those in the world around you! You need to live with kingdom urgency and invest your life in what truly matters.

Now some of you are not sure what I mean when I use the term kingdom. Ultimately, the kingdom will come fully when I return and bring those who are Mine home to the Father. But, I want to remind you that I taught you to pray these words:
Your prayers, rather, should be simple, like this:
Our Father in heaven, let Your name remain holy. Bring about Your kingdom. Manifest Your will here on earth, as it is manifest in heaven.
(Matthew 6:9-10)


When I taught you to pray this way, I wasn't just talking about the ultimate coming of the kingdom when I return for you. I was also talking about bringing the way of life that reflects Our — Father, Son, and Spirit's — nature into your world. When you pray this way, you are saying that you want Our righteous character and gracious compassion to enter the world right now through you — that you will treat others, especially the weak and vulnerable, the way that I treated them when I was on earth. That means that your approach to money, investing, friendship, work, forgiveness, accountability, sexual ethics, gender relations, purity — and a host of other things — will demonstrate what I taught and lived when I was on earth.

To bring the kingdom to your time, you have to live counter culturally to the world around you. You must live for something other than what the people around you pursue. There is an urgency about this. Your younger and emerging adults have great skepticism about My followers and their churches because they have not seen this kingdom urgency in you.

So much of their skepticism can be blamed on the disingenuous leaders and greedy posers claiming to be My shepherds. These charlatans have crowded the media stage, begging for money and pronouncing a morality that they themselves do not live. While the vast majority of the leaders in My church are good and decent people, the few who have made headlines have played right into the devil's hands so he could make Me and those who follow Me look bad.

Another problem is that so few of My followers actually live with kingdom urgency. Listen to My words of warning in the verses below about being "apathetic" and "complacent". Seek My kingdom first — seek the righteousness and compassion that I demonstrated in My ministry. The Father longs to give you the kingdom, yet you must be seeking it, longing for it, and living it if you are going to see My kingdom come!
Verses to Live

As you read these words from Luke, please know this: if you live for My kingdom and My righteousness, you will be investing in what can't be stolen, won't decay, and will never depreciate. Your heart will pursue what I pursued. And the Father? Well, the Father will be overjoyed to give you what your heart has pursued!
Jesus to His disciples:
My little flock, don't be afraid. God is your Father, and your Father's great joy is to give you His kingdom.

That means you can sell your possessions and give generously to the poor. You can have a different kind of savings plan: one that never depreciates, one that never defaults, one that can't be plundered by crooks or destroyed by natural calamities. Your treasure will be stored in the heavens, and since your treasure is there, your heart will be lodged there as well.

I'm not just talking theory. There is urgency in all this. If you're apathetic and complacent, then you'll miss the moment of opportunity. You should be wide awake and on your toes like servants who are waiting for their master to return from a big wedding reception. They'll have their shoes on and their lamps lit so they can open the door for him as soon as he arrives home. How fortunate those servants will be when the master knocks and they open the door immediately! You know what the master will do? He'll put on an apron, sit them down at the kitchen table, and he'll serve them a midnight snack. The later he comes home — whether it's at midnight or even later, just before dawn — the more fortunate the alert servants will be.

In contrast, imagine a complacent, apathetic household manager whose house gets robbed. If he had been aware that thieves were waiting in the bushes and what hour they were coming, he would have watched and he never would have left the house! I'm trying to tell you that these are times for alertness, times requiring a sense of urgency and intensity, because like the master in the first story or the thief in the second, the Son of Man shows up by surprise.

Peter:
Lord, I'm not sure if this parable is intended only for us disciples or if this is for everyone else too.

Jesus:
Imagine the stories of two household managers, and decide for yourself which one is faithful and smart. Each household manager is told by his master to take good care of all his possessions and to oversee the other employees — the butlers, cooks, gardeners, and so on. One servant immediately busies himself in doing just what he was told. His master eventually comes to check on him and rewards him with a major promotion and with more responsibility and trust. The other household manager thinks, "Look, my boss is going to be gone for a long time. I can be complacent; there's no urgency here." So he beats the other employees — the women as well as the men. He sits around like a slob, eating and getting drunk. Then the boss comes home unexpectedly and catches him by surprise. One household manager will be fortunate indeed, and the other will be cut into pieces and thrown out.

Now if a servant who is given clear instructions by his master doesn't follow those instructions but instead is complacent and apathetic, then he will be punished severely. But if a servant doesn't know what his master expects and behaves badly, then he will receive a lighter punishment. If you are given much, much will be required of you. If much is entrusted to you, much will be expected of you.

(Luke 12:32-48)
Response in Prayer

O Abba Father, I want the prayer that Jesus taught us to be my own prayer:
Father in heaven, may Your name be revered. May Your kingdom come. May Your will be accomplished on earth as it is in heaven. Give us the food we need for tomorrow, And forgive us for our wrongs, for we forgive those who wrong us. And lead us away from temptation. And save us from the evil one.*
In the name of the Lord Jesus and through the intercession of the Holy Spirit I pray this. Amen.

* From Luke 11:2-4.
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Can't You See the Urgency?" — A Year with Jesus for 03/15/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

Yesterday I shared a long message with you about your need to treat the issues of the kingdom with a sense of urgency. I warned you that there is never a time to be complacent. As you read the verses below, you will see that I emphasized the need for even a greater sense of urgency.

For those who first heard my words in the verses below, there was going to be an important moment of decision. My rejection, crucifixion, and resurrection were going to lead to a moment of supreme decision for everyone. This supreme moment of decision for all who knew and heard Me was coming sooner than anyone wanted to recognize. This decision would tear families apart because some would wholly reject Me, considering Me a blasphemer and a troublemaker, while others would see Me as I AM — the Holy One of God sent to save them.

For you, this must be a decision you make daily. What will you do with Me? Am I liar, lunatic, or Lord? And if I am Lord, how then will you live differently than those around you? Yes, this is a decision of daily urgency!
Verses to Live

While you don't face the same exact scenario as these first hearers of My message, you are confronted with a challenge by the things I've been saying the last several days. You must feel a sense of urgency about where to invest your life. Your attachment to the world can easily lead you to live in apathy and approach important spiritual matters with complacency. So I'm challenging you today with strong language and strong images, because you must decide what you are going to do with Me.
Jesus to His disciples:
This is serious business we're involved in. My mission is to send a purging fire on the earth! In fact, I can hardly wait to see the smoke rising. I have a kind of baptism to go through, and I can't relax until My mission is accomplished! Do you think I've come with a nice little message of peace? No way. Believe Me, My message will divide. It will divide a household of five into three against two or two against three. It will divide father against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.

(speaking to the crowd) You see a cloud arise from the sea in the west, and you can say, "Here comes a shower!" And you're right. Or you feel the hot wind blowing in from the desert in the south and you say, "It's going to be really hot!" And you're right. Listen, hypocrites! You can predict the weather by paying attention to the sky and the earth, but why can't you interpret the urgency of this present moment? Why don't you see it for yourselves?

Imagine you're being sued. You and your accuser are on your way to court. Wouldn't you do everything in your power to settle out of court before you stand before the magistrate? After all, he might drag you to stand before the judge, and the judge might hand you over to the police, and they might throw you in jail. Once you're in jail, it's too late: you're not going anywhere until you've paid in full.

(Luke 12:49-59)
Response in Prayer

Almighty God, I confess that I can become complacent, even apathetic, about my life as Jesus' disciple. There are so many things crowding into my heart for my attention. So today, I pray the prayer Moses offered many centuries ago: Lord, teach us to number our days so that we may get a heart of wisdom.* I want to live every moment for Jesus with passion and courage. I don't want to waste any moments you have given me and fritter away my life on what doesn't eternally matter. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

* Psalm 90:12 ESV, a psalm described as "A Prayer of Moses, the Man of God."
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 13 Mar 2014, 8:56 pm

"Getting Past Your Worries" — A Year with Jesus for 03/13/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious One,

Yesterday, I spoke to you about fear. Today I want to talk to you about worry. Actually, I want to talk with you about the sin that lies behind so many of your worries: greed! Listen carefully as I remind you of three key principles you will see in the verses below. I gave these principles to My disciples to help them defeat the power of worry in their lives. Please know, Luke wrote about these three principles to help you defeat worry, too!

Principle 1:
You'd better be on your guard against any type of greed, for a person's life is not about having a lot of possessions.

Greed is insidious and destructive — in fact, it is a form of idolatry. Greed means the things you have now are never enough. Greed opens the door for you to trample all over people to get things. Greed makes you think you deserve and own the things that you have, rather than seeing them as blessings from Us — Father, Son, and Spirit — to be used to bring the influence of Our kingdom into your fallen world.

Principle 2:
Don't let your mind be filled with anxiety. People of the world who don't know God pursue these things, but you have a Father caring for you, a Father who knows all your needs.

When I spoke to you yesterday about fear, I reminded you that you are precious to Us. Please remember that truth. Why would the Father send Me to be sacrificed for you if you were not precious? Why would I pour the Holy Spirit upon you, to live within you, if you are not precious to us? With so many less important things in your world that receive Our gracious provision, why would we ever abandon you when you are so precious to Us?

Principle 3:
Pursue God's kingdom first and foremost, and these other things will come to you as well. My little flock, don't be afraid. God is your Father, and your Father's great joy is to give you His kingdom.

Worry is often the byproduct of having your focus on the wrong things. If your consuming passion is to follow Me and to bring the gracious benefits of My kingdom to your broken world, then you are not going to have time to focus on temporary stuff that doesn't matter. Love people like I have loved you. Honor the Father with all of your heart. When you focus on these two important things, all the other things in your life will fall into their proper place.
Verses to Live

Here are My words about worry. Remember My three principles; they are not simply suggestions to you, but they are given to help you find life.
Person in the Crowd:
Teacher, intervene and tell my brother to share the family inheritance with me.

Jesus:
Since when am I your judge or arbitrator?

Then He used that opportunity to speak to the crowd.

Jesus:
You'd better be on your guard against any type of greed, for a person's life is not about having a lot of possessions.

(then, beginning another parable) A wealthy man owned some land that produced a huge harvest. He often thought to himself, "I have a problem here. I don't have anywhere to store all my crops. What should I do? I know! I'll tear down my small barns and build even bigger ones, and then I'll have plenty of storage space for my grain and all my other goods. Then I'll be able to say to myself, 'I have it made! I can relax and take it easy for years! So I'll just sit back, eat, drink, and have a good time! ' "

Then God interrupted the man's conversation with himself. "Excuse Me, Mr. Brilliant, but your time has come. Tonight you will die. Now who will enjoy everything you've earned and saved?"

This is how it will be for people who accumulate huge assets for themselves but have no assets in relation to God.

(then, to His disciples) This is why I keep telling you not to worry about anything in life — about what you'll eat, about how you'll clothe your body. Life is more than food, and the body is more than fancy clothes. Think about those crows flying over there: do they plant and harvest crops? Do they own silos or barns? Look at them fly. It looks like God is taking pretty good care of them, doesn't it? Remember that you are more precious to God than birds! Which one of you can add a single hour to your life or 18 inches to your height by worrying really hard? If worry can't change anything, why do you do it so much?

Think about those beautiful wild lilies growing over there. They don't work up a sweat toiling for needs or wants — they don't worry about clothing. Yet the great King Solomon never had an outfit that was half as glorious as theirs!

Look at the grass growing over there. One day it's thriving in the fields. The next day it's being used as fuel. If God takes such good care of such transient things, how much more you can depend on God to care for you, weak in faith as you are. Don't reduce your life to the pursuit of food and drink; don't let your mind be filled with anxiety. People of the world who don't know God pursue these things, but you have a Father caring for you, a Father who knows all your needs.

Since you don't need to worry — about security and safety, about food and clothing— then pursue God's kingdom first and foremost, and these other things will come to you as well.

My little flock, don't be afraid. God is your Father, and your Father's great joy is to give you His kingdom.

That means you can sell your possessions and give generously to the poor. You can have a different kind of savings plan: one that never depreciates, one that never defaults, one that can't be plundered by crooks or destroyed by natural calamities. Your treasure will be stored in the heavens, and since your treasure is there, your heart will be lodged there as well

(Luke 12:13-34)
Response in Prayer

Holy Spirit, please empower me as I seek to have an undivided heart that is committed to the Father. Lord Jesus, I commit to live Your words as I seek to rid my life of worry and as I remember Your promise that I am precious to You. I confess, Father, that the things of this world are tantalizing to me; they pull at my heart and I sometimes think that they can bring joy to my life. I know from experience and from Your word, dear Father, that these are shallow and fleeting joys, so forgive me for my greed as I seek to place You and Your kingdom as my highest priorities. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 12 Mar 2014, 10:12 pm

"Don't Be Intimidated!" — A Year with Jesus for 03/12/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Faithful Follower,

People are afraid of many different kinds of things. That's why one of the most frequent commands in the Scriptures is to not be afraid. It is also a command that I gave several times to My disciples. Fear is a real issue for people in your fallen world.

The Father sent Me to deal with fear, and the power behind your fears — the devil who uses sin and death to keep mortals enslaved to fear. The writer of Hebrews describes My role in defeating the devil and his power to use death to enslave you to fear:
Since we, the children, are all creatures of flesh and blood, Jesus took on flesh and blood, so that by dying He could destroy the one who held power over death — the devil — and destroy the fear of death that has always held people captive

(Hebrews 2:14-15)

You are journeying with Me to Jerusalem as you read from the gospels in these devotionals. When My journey to Jerusalem is complete, I will die for your sins, I will be buried in death to conquer hell, and I will be raised to life, giving you glorious life beyond your death. The apostle Paul says it this way:
I am absolutely miserable! Is there anyone who can free me from this body where sin and death reign so supremely? I am thankful to God for the freedom that comes through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One.

(Romans 7:24-25).

Sin came into this world, and death’s sting followed. Then sin took aim at the law and gained power over those who follow the law. Thank God, then, for our Lord Jesus, the Anointed, the Liberating King, who brought us victory over the grave.

(1 Corinthians 15:56-57)

The Father is the only One Who should truly be feared, but only if you are not His child. If you are My disciple, you are the Father's child. Then you don't need to fear Him. You are more precious to Us — Father, Son and Spirit — than you can imagine. The Father sent Me to save you at great cost. I went to the cross to redeem you and destroy the devil's hold on you through fear. The Holy Spirit lives inside you to lead you, comfort you, empower you, and transform you.

Don't fear what might happen; remember what I accomplished for you. Remind yourself how much the Father loves you and delights in you. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His presence to you to calm your heart and strengthen your faith. Then when people ignore, mistreat, ridicule, threaten, or even hurt you, you don't have to be afraid. Remember the promise I make to you as I discuss all of these issues in the verses below:
If you identify unashamedly with Me before others, I, the Son of Man, will affirm you before God and all the heavenly messengers.

Verses to Live

What do you fear?

Will you let Me help you with that fear?

Will you let the Holy Spirit empower you and lead you out of your fear?

Will you let the Father remind you how precious you are to him?

Listen to My words of promise that Luke gives you to help you overcome your fear in the face of hardship!

The crowds at this time were packed in so tightly that thousands of people were stepping on each other. Jesus spoke to His disciples, knowing that the crowds could overhear.

Jesus:
Guard yourselves from the yeast that puffs up the Pharisees — hypocrisy, false appearance, trying to look better than you really are.

Nothing is covered up that won't be discovered; nothing is hidden that won't be exposed. Whatever a person says in the dark will be published in the light of day, and whatever a person whispers in private rooms will be broadcast from the housetops.

Listen, My friends, if people are trying to kill you, why be afraid? After you're dead, what more can they do? Here's whose opinion you should be concerned about: the One who can take your life and then throw you into hell! He's the only One you should fear! But don't misunderstand: you don't really need to be afraid of God, because God cares for every little sparrow. How much is a sparrow worth — don't five of them sell for a few cents? Since you are so much more precious to God than a thousand flocks of sparrows, and since God knows you in every detail — down to the number of hairs on your head at this moment — you can be secure and unafraid of any person, and; you have nothing to fear from God either.

That's why I keep telling you not to be intimidated. If you identify unashamedly with Me before others, I, the Son of Man, will affirm you before God and all the heavenly messengers. But if you deny Me before others, you will be denied before God and all the heavenly messengers. People can speak a word against Me, the Son of Man, and the sin is forgivable. But they can go too far, slandering the testimony of the Holy Spirit by rejecting His message about Me, and they won't be forgiven for that.

So you can anticipate that you will be put on trial before the synagogues and religious officials. Don't worry how you'll respond, and don't worry what you should say. The Holy Spirit will give you the words to say at the moment when you need them.

(Luke 12:1-12)
Response in Prayer

O Father, the Almighty and my Abba, there are times when I find it so easy to be afraid. I am not usually a "Woe is me!" kind of person, but there are people I love who have things I cannot fix or change and I fear for their future. I am uncertain about my own days ahead, Father, and I don't want to be afraid of the future. So I ask, Lord Jesus, that You pour out Your Spirit with power into my heart. Please, Holy Spirit within me, bring me comfort and empower me to act courageously in the face of things I could fear. Most of all, O God, help me find my confidence in Your love for me. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 11 Mar 2014, 3:57 pm

"What Brings Deep Joy" — A Year with Jesus for 03/10/2014

Note from Jesus

My Dear Little One,

The world is a big place. I've asked you to step into this big place and make a big difference. I know there will be times when your work seems hopeless and your impact small. So, form the scripture below, I want you to realize several things that I did to help My original disciples understand.

First, pray for more workers. The Father is waiting for you to ask for His help in bringing more good workers into the harvest fields.

Second, not everyone will welcome your efforts. When you find people who do, focus on them. Build relationships with them.

Third, when you and your message are rejected, don't take it personally. They are not rejecting you, but Me and the Father who sent Me. Don't dwell on the rejection and let it defeat you; move on looking for the next person or family longing to find My grace.

Along the way, as you do My kingdom-bringing work, you will experience the joy of My presence and power. Satan will be dethroned from human hearts and people's lives. This should bring you joy! This does bring Me joy — deep joy and elation!

So yes, I'm sending you into a world that is vast and challenging with a message that often is not welcomed, but as you go, as you do My will, and as you expose people to the Father's grace, the kingdom comes and you get to experience what even the greatest of the great among the prophets and kings of old never got to glimpse.

Yes, this is all cause to rejoice. Yes, this brings Me deep joy. But here is a fantastic reason to rejoice: your name is written in heaven. The Father claims you as His own!

Verses to Live

While the following events and words were written about a specific mission of sending my disciples, listen and look underneath My words to these disciples and find the principles to sustain you and lead you to rejoice in your own work for the Father and for bringing the kingdom!
The Lord then recruited and deployed 70 more disciples. He sent them ahead, in teams of two, to visit all the towns and settlements between them and Jerusalem. This is what He ordered.

Jesus:
There's a great harvest waiting in the fields, but there aren't many good workers to harvest it. Pray that the Harvest Master will send out good workers to the fields.

It's time for you 70 to go. I'm sending you out armed with vulnerability, like lambs walking into a pack of wolves. Don't bring a wallet. Don't carry a backpack. I don't even want you to wear sandals. Walk along barefoot, quietly, without stopping for small talk. When you enter a house seeking lodging, say, "Peace on this house!" If a child of peace — one who welcomes God's message of peace — is there, your peace will rest on him. If not, don't worry; nothing is wasted. Stay where you're welcomed. Become part of the family, eating and drinking whatever they give you. You're My workers, and you deserve to be cared for. Again, don't go from house to house, but settle down in a town and eat whatever they serve you. Heal the sick and say to the townspeople, "The kingdom of God has come near to you."

Of course, not every town will welcome you. If you're rejected, walk through the streets and say, "We're leaving this town. We'll wipe off the dust that clings to our feet in protest against you. But even so, know this: the kingdom of God has come near." I tell you the truth, on judgment day, Sodom will have an easier time of it than the town that rejects My messengers.

It's going to be bad for you, Chorazin! It's going to be bad for you, Bethsaida! If the mighty works done in your streets had been done in the cities of Tyre and Sidon, they would have been moved to turn to God and cry out in sackcloth and ashes. On judgment day, Tyre and Sidon will have an easier time of it than you. It's going to be bad for you, too, Capernaum! Will you be celebrated to heaven? No, you will go down to the place of the dead.

Listen, disciples: if people give you a hearing, they're giving Me a hearing. If they reject you, they're rejecting Me. And if they reject Me, they're rejecting the One who sent Me. So — go now!

When the 70 completed their mission and returned to report on their experiences, they were elated.

Seventy:
It's amazing, Lord! When we use Your name, the demons do what we say!


Jesus:
I know. I saw Satan falling from above like a lightning bolt. I've given you true authority. You can smash vipers and scorpions under your feet. You can walk all over the power of the enemy. You can't be harmed. But listen — that's not the point. Don't be elated that evil spirits leave when you say to leave. Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

Then Jesus Himself became elated. The Holy Spirit was on Him, and He began to pray with joy.

Jesus:
Thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. Thank You for hiding Your mysteries from the wise and intellectual, instead revealing them to little children. Your ways are truly gracious. My Father has given Me everything. No one knows the full identity of the Son except the Father, and nobody knows the full identity of the Father except the Son, and the Son fully reveals the Father to whomever He wishes. (then almost in a whisper to the disciples) How blessed are your eyes to see what you see! Many prophets and kings dreamed of seeing what you see, but they never got a glimpse. They dreamed of hearing what you hear, but they never heard it

(Luke 10:1-24)
Response in Prayer

O Father, the challenges are great and my efforts often feel fruitless and ineffective. I pray, dear Father, that You send more workers into the harvest fields to help with Your kingdom-building work. I ask that You help me find joy in the welcome I receive from seeking and welcoming hearts. I ask that You give me courage to trust in Your presence when I feel alone and ineffective. Dear Father, also please send the Holy Spirit to my heart to help me rejoice because I know my efforts defeatSatan in the hearts of good and sweet people and that these same efforts bring the Lord Jesus deep and satisfying joy. It is in His name, the Lord Jesus, that I pray. Amen.
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"Truth with a Bit of Shock" — A Year with Jesus for 03/11/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

There are so many good things I could share with you about the verses below from Luke's gospel. I want to point out a couple of things that I hope you will spend some time prayerfully considering. 

Notice that Luke adds a little commentary to help you understand the motives of the scholar who comes to question Me.

Luke gives us the first key insight into this encounter with the following words: "to trap Jesus"! So you know from the beginning, the scholar's desire was not to learn from Me, but to deal with Me harshly. So while he answered My return question correctly, he did not answer "rightly" — correct data does not equal a right heart, something that "Jesus scholars" in your day can also confuse. Notice My emphasis on going and living this truth about the two great love commandments, not just know the right answers about them. After all, it wasn't love that drove him to ask Me those questions to trap Me. Right answers without a right heart and right living lead to a foolish waste of one's life!

Luke gives you the second key insight in this encounter with the following words: "hoping to make himself appear smarter than Jesus." He was trying to justify his importance as he trapped Me in some technical error of scholarship. Notice what I ask at the end of the parable of "The Good Samaritan" and see how I shift his question into a responsibility to have the heart and actions of love on display: "Which of these three proved himself a neighbor to the man who had been mugged by the robbers?" Notice how I shift the obligation from a correctness about Scriptures and into a question of those needing your help!

In the second event — the one in Martha's house — there is an issue of societal obligations and what is most important. For a woman in Martha's day, Jewish society considered that woman's highest obligation was hospitality to guests in her home. So Martha lived up to that expectation beautifully except on one point: she wanted to impose that on Mary, who was sitting at My feet as a disciple training to know, live, and teach inspired truth. As important as social obligations can be, beloved one, please remember this: there is no higher call than to sit at My feet as a disciple seeking to learn My truth, live My truth, and to love others into My truth. Mary chose the one greater thing and I wouldn't let anything steal that away.

Now that's quite a bit to absorb for one note, but here's one other little insight: Samaritans — like the hero in My parable — were never supposed to be heroes in anything in Jewish culture. So to shock the scholar, I made the Samaritan a hero to make My point: religious answers and religious pedigree carry no weight with Us — Father, Son, and Spirit. Living with righteous character and the gracious compassion — in other words, reflecting Our nature in these holy ways — is what makes a difference in your world and in Our kingdom.

In addition, you may not pick up on this same shock principle in the event at Martha's house. Once again, I said something unsettling by praising an unlikely hero. Mary was seated in the position of a rabbi in training — to sit at the feet of a great rabbi meant that you were his student in training. (The apostle to the Gentiles, Paul of Tarsus, gives us a great example of this when he refers to his great education in this way:
"I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day."

(Acts 22:3 ESV)
For Mary to sit in that position would have been shocking. For Me to affirm her for it was truly shocking. She is the hero of the story and she is the one who had "chosen that one thing"!
Verses to Live

What you see Me do in the encounter with the scholar and the affirmation of Mary is to demonstrate what the apostle Paul would later declare:
For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.

(Galatians 3:26-29)
Luke gives his account of these events immediately following the return of the 70 disciples from their mission and My time of rejoicing with them.
Just then a scholar of the Hebrew Scriptures tried to trap Jesus.

Scholar:
Teacher, what must I do to experience the eternal life?

Jesus (answering with a question):
What is written in the Hebrew Scriptures! ? How do you interpret their answer to your question?

Scholar:
You shall love — "love the Eternal One your God with everything you have: all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind" — and "love your neighbor as yourself."

Jesus:
Perfect. Your answer is correct. Follow these commands and you will live.

The scholar was frustrated by this response because he was hoping to make himself appear smarter than Jesus.

Scholar:
Ah, but who is my neighbor?
Jesus:
This fellow was traveling down from Jerusalem to Jericho when some robbers mugged him. They took his clothes, beat him to a pulp, and left him naked and bleeding and in critical condition. By chance, a priest was going down that same road, and when he saw the wounded man, he crossed over to the other side and passed by. Then a Levite who was on his way to assist in the temple also came and saw the victim lying there, and he too kept his distance. Then a despised Samaritan journeyed by. When he saw the fellow, he felt compassion for him. The Samaritan went over to him, stopped the bleeding, applied some first aid, and put the poor fellow on his donkey. He brought the man to an inn and cared for him through the night.

The next day, the Samaritan took out some money — two days' wages to be exact — and paid the innkeeper, saying, "Please take care of this fellow, and if this isn't enough, I'll repay you next time I pass through."

Which of these three proved himself a neighbor to the man who had been mugged by the robbers?

Scholar:
The one who showed mercy to him.

Jesus:
Well then, go and behave like that Samaritan.


Jesus continued from there toward Jerusalem and came to another village. Martha, a resident of that village, welcomed Jesus into her home. Her sister, Mary, went and sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him teach. Meanwhile Martha was anxious about all the hospitality arrangements.

Martha (interrupting Jesus):
Lord, why don't You care that my sister is leaving me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to get over here and help me.

Jesus:
Oh Martha, Martha, you are so anxious and concerned about a million details, but really, only one thing matters. Mary has chosen that one thing, and I won’t take it away from her.

(Luke 10:25-42)
Response in Prayer

O God, I want to have a heart that loves and chooses to demonstrate Your righteous character and gracious compassion to others. Fill me, please, O God, with Your Holy Spirit to help me as I seek to honor You by loving and serving others as Jesus taught. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sun 09 Mar 2014, 9:34 pm

IAM!" — A Year with Jesus for 03/09/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

I want you to notice a few things about the ongoing contentious dealings I had with the religious leaders that you find in the verses below. They couldn't make Me back down or compromise the truth that I was speaking to them. So they did what many folks losing an argument sometimes do: they start calling Me names — ugly, racial and religious slurs. If they couldn't defeat My truth, then they were going to try to discredit Me and beat Me up with ugly words intended to brand and shame Me.

So I say two primary things I want you to notice. Both of these are astounding claims that I will back up with the cross and resurrection!

First, I make you an incredible promise in the middle of all the contentious words:
I tell you the truth, anyone who hears My voice and keeps My word will never experience death.
Yes, I know that your body is going to die, but the real you will not die. The real you will be joined to Me (Colossians 3:1-4) and I will give you a new and glorious body when I return for you in My glory (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Death cannot have you, claim you, or hold you because you belong to Me!

Second, I claim to be God — the one true and living God of Israel, Yahweh, the great I AM who revealed Himself to Moses (Exodus 3:13-15):
I tell you the truth; I AM before Abraham was born.
They did not misunderstand Me. They either had to believe in Me or count Me as a blasphemer. The devil had so blinded them to all the good things that I had done that they could not see that the Father had sent Me.

So, dear disciple, don't miss either truth. Because I AM God and lived among you as one of you, you can come and live with Me in the presence of the Father and all those who have honored Him with their lives. What John said about Me in the beginning of his gospel is true. If you can't remember it, then why not go back and read it once again before you hear the discussion below. I think you will find it makes the same two points I just shared with you!

Verses to Live

You are dropping in on a contentious discussion between the religious leaders and Me. They are determined to label Me as someone evil. I will not let them, but instead make the two incredible claims: those who believe in Me will never die and I not only do the Father's will, but I AM God who walks among them.
Jews:
We were right when we called You a demon-possessed Samaritan.

Jesus:
I'm not taken by demons. You dishonor Me, but I give all glory and honor to the Father. But I am not pursuing My own fame. There is only One who pursues and renders justice. I tell you the truth, anyone who hears My voice and keeps My word will never experience death.

Jews:
We are even more confident now that You are demon-possessed. Just go down the list: Abraham died, the prophets all died. Yet You say, "If you keep My word, you will never taste death." Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died; remember? Prophets — are any of them still alive? No. Who do You think You are?

Jesus:
If I were trying to make Myself somebody important, it would be a waste of time. That kind of fame is worth nothing. It is the Father who is behind Me, urging Me on, giving Me praise. You say, "He is our God," but you are not in relationship with Him. I know Him intimately; even if I said anything other than the truth, I would be a liar, like you. I know Him, and I do as He says. Your father Abraham anticipated the time when I would come, and he celebrated My coming.

Jews:
You aren't even 50 years old, yet You have seen and talked with Abraham?

Jesus:
I tell you the truth; I AM before Abraham was born.

The people picked up stones to hurl at Him, but Jesus slipped out of the temple. Their murderous rage would have to wait.

(John 8:48-59)
Response in Prayer

God Almighty, the great I AM, Who is and Who was and Who is to come, I thank You for becoming human flesh, defeating sin and death, and giving us life through our faith in You and Your triumph over Satan, sin, and death through the cross and resurrection. I praise you and thank you in Jesus' name. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 08 Mar 2014, 11:07 pm

"Nuggets of Truth" — A Year with Jesus for 03/08/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

The verses below come from a very contentious time when the religious leaders were trying to trick Me into a religious trap so they could kill Me. There are nuggets of truth that are placed all through this discussion to bless you and give you life.

Nugget One: If you really want to know the truth about Me, spend time with what I teach and put it into practice. As you do, you will realize the truth of what I say and will find freedom to live life as the Father intended for you to live it!

Nugget Two: Sin enslaves you. When you sin, you surrender the power of your life to the evil one who wants to enslave you to the power of sin and death.

Nugget Three: I came to set you free from the power of sin and death. As you journey with Me in the coming days and join Me on My way to Jerusalem — to My sacrificial death on the cross and My triumphant resurrection from the dead — you will discover that I came because the Father loves you and wants to give you life.

Nugget Four: The devil is a deceiver. In fact, he is a liar and a killer. He has been up to his deceptive and vile attacks since the beginning of his influence on humanity. So don't trust him. Resist his temptations. Refuse his lies because they lead to death!

Nugget Five: If you seek the Father's will, if you watch what I do to redeem you, you can know that I speak the truth and that the devil speaks lies. You can recognize that the devil wants to do you harm and that I came to give you freedom and life.
Verses to Live

The following is a tough discussion with tough words. I want you to notice that I do not back down from the truth. I love everyone, even those who hate Me. However, I will not surrender the truth to those who hate Me and their lies about Me. I know it is not politically correct in your day, just as it was not in My day. But here is the truth: Only I can truly and fully liberate you from the power of sin to enslave you. That is the mission the Father sent Me to fulfill, and I finished that mission for you at great cost to Myself!
Jesus (to the new Jewish believers):
If you hear My voice and abide in My word, you are truly My disciples; you will know the truth, and that truth will give you freedom.

Jewish Believers:
We are Abraham's children, and we have never been enslaved to anyone. How can You say to us, "You will be set free"?

Jesus:
I tell you the truth: everyone who commits sin surrenders his freedom to sin. He is a slave to sin's power. Even a household slave does not live in the home like a member of the family, but a son belongs there forever. So think of it this way: if the Son comes to make you free, you will really be free.

I know you are descendants of Abraham, but here you are plotting to murder Me because you do not welcome My voice into your lives. As I speak, I am painting you a picture of what I have seen with My Father; here you are repeating the things you have seen from your father.

Jews:
Abraham is our father.

Jesus:
If you are truly Abraham's children, then act like Abraham! From what I see you are trying to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth that comes from the Father. This is not something Abraham would do, but you are doing what you have learned from your father.

Jews:
We were not born from adulterous parents; we have one Father: God.

Jesus:
I come from the one True God, and I'm not here on My own. He sent Me on a mission. If God were your Father, you would know that and would love Me. You don't even understand what I'm saying. Do you? Why not? It is because You cannot stand to hear My voice. You are just like your true father, the devil; and you spend your time pursuing the things your father loves. He started out as a killer, and he cannot tolerate truth because he is void of anything true. At the core of his character, he is a liar; everything he speaks originates in these lies because he is the father of lies. So when I speak truth, you don't believe Me. If I speak the truth, why don't you believe Me? If you belong to God's family, then why can't you hear God speak? The answer is clear; you are not in God's family. I speak truth, and you don't believe Me. Can any of you convict Me of sin?

(John 8:31-47)
Response in Prayer

Lord Jesus, I believe that You came from the Father and accomplished His will, going to the cross for me. I believe, Lord Jesus, that you rose from the dead to liberate me from the power of sin and death. So I choose to follow You, to trust You, and to resist the lies of the devil. Only You, Lord Jesus, have the words of eternal life! To You I offer my deepest thanks and praise. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Fri 07 Mar 2014, 10:30 pm

"Light Shining in the Darkness" — A Year with Jesus for 03/06/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Seeker,

When seen in the darkness of a moonless sky, away from the light pollution of the cities, on the darkest of nights, the billions upon billions of stars merge into a deep and comforting glow at the near reaches of your universe. The brightest of stars shine even more brilliantly. The darkest of nights reveals just how brightly the stars of the heavens shine. The darkness does not snuff out their light, but only makes it more visible!
I am the light that shines through the cosmos; if you walk with Me, you will thrive in the nourishing light that gives life and will not know darkness.

My beloved disciple John emphasizes throughout his gospel that I AM this light. My light shines through the darkness of the entire cosmos. My light shines into the deepest darkness of your world. My light shines out of My life's darkest moments to give you light in your darkest of moments.

As I journey through the darkness of rejection, betrayal, abandonment, trials, and crucifixion, My light will still shine. My light will shine on and shine into the darkness and never will be truly extinguished, not even in My death. Remember this truth as I submit to the Father's will and let Satan have his way with Me on the cross. Even as darkness appears to have overcome Me and those who love Me, My light shines and gives hope to those trapped in deepest darkness:
Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking. The Voice was and is God. This celestial Word remained ever present with the Creator; His speech shaped the entire cosmos. Immersed in the practice of creating, all things that exist were birthed in Him. His breath filled all things with a living, breathing light — a light that thrives in the depths of darkness, blazes through murky bottoms. It cannot and will not be quenched.

(John 1:1-5)

I AM this Light! I AM this Voice. I AM this Word. You can believe Me. My message can be trusted and My light can bring you life!
Verses to Live

In your darkest moments, how do you find the will to go on? In your darkness, where do you find light? Please hear My words. Trust Me. Come to Me and let Me give you light!
On another occasion, Jesus spoke to the crowds again.

Jesus:
I am the light that shines through the cosmos; if you walk with Me, you will thrive in the nourishing light that gives life and will not know darkness.

Pharisees:
Jesus, what You are claiming about Yourself cannot possibly be true. The only person bearing witness is You.

Jesus:
Even if I am making bold claims about Myself — who I am, what I have come to do — I am speaking the truth. You see, I know where I came from and where I will go when I am done here. You know neither where I come from nor where I will go. You spend your time judging by the wrong criteria, by human standards; but I am not here to judge anyone. If I were to judge, then My judgment would be based on truth; but I would not judge anyone alone. I act in harmony with the One who sent Me. Your law states that if the testimonies of two witnesses agree, their testimony is true. Well, I testify about Myself, and so does the Father who sent Me here.

Pharisees:
Where is the Father who testifies on Your behalf?

Jesus:
You don't know the Father or Me. If you knew Me, then you would also know the Father.

Jesus said all of these things in the treasury while He was teaching in the temple; followers and opponents alike gathered to hear Him, but none of His enemies tried to seize Him because His time had not yet come. 

(John 8:12-20)
Response in Prayer

O Father of mercy and God of all grace, how can I thank You for Your indescribable gift in Jesus, Who gives me Your life and brings Me Your light? I choose to walk with Jesus and His light, not in darkness. I choose to follow His words and live my life for You. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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 "Unless" — A Year with Jesus for 03/07/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Searcher,

There is only one message that you must hear today. It is the one and essential truth you must believe and act upon that belief. This is the essential truth on which your eternal destiny pivots. So rather than give you many words in My note to you today, I want to challenge you with this one, unalterable truth from the verses below:
Unless you believe I am who I have said I am, your sins will lead to your death.

My beloved disciple John wrote his story of Me, the Gospel of John, to help you truly believe and find life in Me (John 20:30-31). While I welcome you here each day on our journey through the New Testament, I encourage you to take some time this week to read John's whole story of Me... at one sitting... to get the whole story... to come to fresh faith in Me... and to find life that cannot be taken from you even when death comes to claim your body.
Verses to Live

Read my words in the next to last paragraph below, listen to them carefully. Notice what I say. Over the next several weeks you will journey with Me to My crucifixion. All will appear to be lost. I will appear to be abandoned. Yet when I AM "lifted up" on the cross, all will not be lost and I will not be abandoned. I will be giving My life to ransom your life from sin. I will be doing what the Father has willed to redeem you at great cost. Most of all, I hope that I will be winning your heart and helping you know of Our great love for you. The power of sin to hold you and have you is real, but the power of My cross and resurrection breaks the power of sin if you choose to believe!
Jesus (to the crowds):
I am leaving this place, and you will look for Me and die in your sin. For where I am going, you are unable to come.

Jews:
Is He suicidal? He keeps saying, "Where I am going, you are unable to come."

Jesus:
You originate from the earth below, and I have come from the heavens above. You are from this world, and I am not. That's why I told you that you will die here as a result of your sins. Unless you believe I am who I have said I am, your sins will lead to your death.

Jews:
Who exactly are You?

Jesus:
From the beginning of My mission, I have been telling you who I am. I have so much to say about you, so many judgments to render; but if you hear one thing, hear that the One who sent Me is true, and all the things I have heard from Him I speak into the world.

The people had not understood that Jesus was teaching about the Father.

Jesus:
Whenever the day comes and you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He. It will be clear then that I am not acting alone, but that I am speaking the things I have learned directly from the Father. The One who sent Me is with Me; He has not abandoned Me because I always do what pleases Him.

As Jesus was speaking, many in the crowd believed in Him.

(John 8:21-30)
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank You for Jesus — for His great love, for His costly obedience to Your will, for His redeeming sacrifice. I believe, dear Father; I believe in Jesus as Your Son, as my Savior, and as my Lord. In Jesus' name I confess and pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 05 Mar 2014, 10:57 pm

"Caught in the Act" — A Year with Jesus for 03/05/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Disciple,

"So what did Jesus write in the dirt with his finger?" I know many of you have wondered this about the episode given in the verses below. Don't let your question lead you to miss the message of this intersection of a woman's sin, religious leaders' misguided zeal to trap Me, and My grace that reaches out to an embarrassed woman with no place to hide her sin and shame.

Life is hard. People grow desperate, then in order to survive, they can resort to things they once thought were reprehensible. I do not condone such behavior, but I understand the terrible power that life, culture, religion, and poverty can exert on people to trap them in the cruel grip of evil's hand. If you look in my own list of ancestors you will find "Rahab the Harlot" who became the great-great-grandmother of King David. Her faith in the Father's ability to protect her and her family as He empowered His people to victory over Jericho earned her a place in My "Faith Hall of Fame" (Hebrews 11:31).

The woman in the story below was "caught in the act," not to prevent evil or to promote righteousness, but to bait me into a religious trap. The Spirit emphasized this point twice — "caught in the act" — to show the scandal. No, not the scandal of the woman, but the scandal of the "scribes and Pharisees". Where is the man involved? Where is their righteous indignation for his sin? How did they know to catch this woman in their trap? Why would they choose to humiliate her instead of redeem her? Why place her on the raging fire of their hate for Me at the cost of her humanity?

They knew that their vile hearts had gotten the better of their desire to be holy and righteous. My writing in the sand and My words of warning reached the hearts of the most mature among the mob.

Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud... The bone-crushing weight of large stones carried by the accusers fell to the dirt. The shuffling of sandaled feet slowly drifted from notice as the woman's accusers turned away, leaving Me alone with this scared and humiliated woman. There, in that moment, I was caught by John's words... "caught in the act" of grace — grace to save this child of God from a mob propelled by hate and grace to save her to live the fresh daily grace of life not in bondage to sin. She would no longer be known as the woman "caught in the very act" of sin, but the woman "caught in the act" of My redeeming grace. So now, as journey the next several weeks toward My cross and resurrection, as one saved by My grace, what "I ask is that you go and from now on avoid the sins that plague you"!
Verses to Live

As you read John's account of this emotionally-charged moment, think of the shame you carry for the sin you've hidden and daily pray that it stays concealed. Now read this story and realize that this woman is you, that you are "caught in the very act" of My grace.
The time came for everyone to go home. Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. He awoke early in the morning to return to the temple. When He arrived, the people surrounded Him, so He sat down and began to teach them. While He was teaching, the scribes and Pharisees brought in a woman who was caught in the act of adultery; and they stood her before Jesus.

Pharisees:
Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. Moses says in the law that we are to kill such women by stoning. What do You say about it?

This was all set up as a test for Jesus; His answers would give them grounds to accuse Him of crimes against Moses' law. Jesus bent over and wrote something in the dirt with His finger. They persisted in badgering Jesus, so He stood up straight.

Jesus:
Let the first stone be thrown by the one among you who has not sinned.

Once again Jesus bent down to the ground and resumed writing with His finger. The Pharisees who heard Him stood still for a few moments and then began to leave slowly, one by one, beginning with the older men. Eventually only Jesus and the woman remained, and Jesus looked up.

Jesus:
Dear woman, where is everyone? Are we alone? Did no one step forward to condemn you?

Woman Caught in Adultery:
Lord, no one has condemned me.

Jesus:
Well, I do not condemn you either; all I ask is that you go and from now on avoid the sins that plague you.
(John 8:1-11)
Response in Prayer

Father, there are no adequate words to say, other than "Thank You!" Thank You for becoming flesh in Jesus. Thank you for Your grace to save me from my sin and for the grace to call me to a greater purpose and life lived for Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 04 Mar 2014, 5:57 pm

"One Singular Purpose" — A Year with Jesus for 03/03/2014

Note: There was a technical error that resulted in yesterday's devotional being sent again today. Below you will find the correct devotional. We apologize for the error.
Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

Following Me is hard. I want your heart. I want your focus. I want your future. I want to be your consuming passion. 

Yes, I know there are many things in your life that can distract you, discourage you, and defeat you. Yet I want you to follow Me through those distractions, discouragements, and defeats. Don't let them sidetrack you from faith in Me.

If there is anything that is more important to you than I AM, be aware that Satan will try to use it to pull you away from Me. Following Me, being My disciple, losing yourself for Me and the good of My kingdom, must come first. Otherwise, the evil one will draw your focus, harvest your bitterness, and provoke you to despair through the things that you hold more important than you hold Me. 

Remember these promises and these truths that transcend all of Satan's lies about what you hold dear:
"If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?" (Mark 8:35-36 NLT)
"And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for My sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life."(Matthew 19:29)

So yes, I call you to follow Me. And I call you to make following Me your highest and most focused calling in your life!
Verses to Live

As I journey to Jerusalem and the cross as My destination, many wanted to be one of My disciples... until they realized the high cost of following. Of course, I remind you of the much higher cost of not following!
He led them on toward another village. Farther along on the road, a man volunteered to become a disciple.

Volunteer:
I'll follow You to any destination.

Jesus:
Foxes are at home in their burrows. Birds are at home in their nests. But the Son of Man has no home. You (to another person) — I want you to follow Me!

Another Volunteer:
I'd be glad to, Teacher, but let me first attend to my father's funeral.

Jesus:
Let the dead bury their dead. I'm giving you a different calling — to go and proclaim the kingdom of God.

A Third Volunteer:
I'll come, Jesus. I'll follow You. But just let me first run home to say good-bye to my family.

Jesus:
Listen, if your hand is on the plow but your eyes are looking backward, then you're not fit for the kingdom of God.

(Luke 9:57-62)

Response in Prayer

Almighty God and my Abba Father, I ask for the help of the Holy Spirit as I seek to strengthen my resolve to follow Jesus with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I pray this in the name of Jesus my Lord. Amen.
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"Who is in Control and in the Know?" — A Year with Jesus for 03/04/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

I know there are at least two things that can drive you crazy as a flesh and blood, flawed, mortal:
People who make a snap judgment about you and then reject you when they don't even have accurate information about you.
Feeling like your life is out of control and there is no one who can help you.

You should read the verses below. They tell about a difficult time in My ministry when hostility was growing against Me from the religious and political establishment. All sorts of people were saying different things about My identity. The people in power in My culture were lined up against Me. They made snap judgments about what I did because they were so steeped in their religious traditions. They refused to see the truth when it was displayed right before their own eyes because the truth about Jesus threatened their system and their roles in that system.

I also want you to notice a theme that My beloved disciple John develops in his gospel, a theme that flows from these events mentioned in the scriptures below and a theme that runs all the way through the betrayal, trials, crucifixion, and resurrection. That theme? I AM in control every step of the way. All the power arrayed against Me is powerless unless I choose to offer Myself to be the sacrificial "Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!" as My cousin John the Baptist described My role (John 1:29). Hostile religious leaders, soldiers under orders to arrest Me, and a confused crowd are powerless to stop Me until I let them. They have no power over Me unless I choose to let them!

Please recognize several things from these truths I've shared:

First, I know what it is like to be wrongly labeled, misunderstood, betrayed by friends, and falsely accused. When you face these kinds of trials, remember the promise of the Holy Spirit shared through the writer of the book you call Hebrews:
So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT)

Second, recognize that I not only have the desire to help you, but I also have the power to help you. I know that when My actions seem veiled, feel so late in coming, or unapparent at all, you can become discouraged. Please don't give up your faith in Me when you don't understand all that is happening. Don't make a wrong judgment about Me like the people in My day did. 
Verses to Live

Realize that I am the fulfillment of everything good that the Father promised. That's what I reveal at the great festivals I attended in Jerusalem. Whether it is water, bread, light, or even the Temple — all key symbols of Israel's festivals — I fill up the meaning of each of them. I AM the "Yes" to God's greatest promises (2 Corinthians 1:19). So when you hear about having your thirst slaked and being blessed with living water from the Spirit, please know that I will keep that promise if you will choose to truly trust in Me!

And if you can't quite bring yourself to believe in Me yet, hang in there. Don't give up. Keep asking questions. Most of all, follow the example of Nicodemus. Keep listening to My words and watch My actions. Follow Me to the Cross and through to My resurrection. If you do, I think you will see that I AM God come to give you Heaven's blessings at the cost of My life because of My love for you and My desire to ransom you from the grip of misguided religion, misunderstanding, and sin and death.
Some Pharisees were hanging back in the crowd, overhearing the gossip about Him [Jesus]. The temple authorities and the Pharisees took action and sent officers to arrest Jesus.

Jesus:
I am going to be with you for a little while longer; then I will return to the One who sent Me. You will look for Me, but you will not be able to find Me. Where I am, you are unable to come.

Some Jews in the Crowd (to each other):
Where could He possibly go that we could not find Him? You don't think He's about to go into the Dispersion and teach our people scattered among the Greeks, do you? What do you think He means, "You will look for Me, but you will not be able to find Me," and, "Where I am, you are unable to come"?

On the last day, the biggest day of the festival, Jesus stood again and spoke aloud.

Jesus:
If any of you is thirsty, come to Me and drink. If you believe in Me, the Hebrew Scriptures say that rivers of living water will flow from within you.

Jesus was referring to the realities of life in the Spirit made available to everyone who believes in Him. But the Spirit had not yet arrived because Jesus had not been glorified.

Some of the Crowd:
This man is definitely the Prophet.

Others:
This is God's Anointed, the Liberating King!

Still Others:
Is it possible for the Anointed to come from Galilee? Don't the Hebrew Scriptures say that He will come from Bethlehem, King David's village, and be a descendant of King David?

Rumors and opinions about the true identity of Jesus divided the crowd. Some wanted to arrest Him, but no one dared to touch Him.

The officers who had been sent by the chief priests and Pharisees to take Jesus into custody returned empty-handed, and they faced some hard questions.

Chief Priest and Pharisees:
Where is Jesus? Why didn't you capture Him?

Officers:
We listened to Him. Never has a man spoken like this man.

Pharisees:
So you have also been led astray? Can you find one leader or educated Pharisee who believes this man? Of course not. This crowd is plagued by ignorance about the teachings of the law; that is why they will listen to Him. That is also why they are under God's curse.

Nicodemus, the Pharisee who approached Jesus under the cloak of darkness, was present when the officers returned empty-handed. He addressed the leaders.

Nicodemus:
Does our law condemn someone without first giving him a fair hearing and learning something about him?

Pharisees (ignoring Nicodemus's legal point):
Are you from Galilee too? Look it up for yourself; no real prophet is supposed to come from Galilee.

(John 7:32-53)
Response in Prayer

O Father, the Almighty God, I believe that Jesus is the One Someone in Whom I can place My trust. I believe that Jesus is Your Son and that He came to earth to be the sacrifice for my sin. I ask that you flood my heart with your Living Water — the Holy Spirit and my Comforter. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Mon 03 Mar 2014, 6:58 pm

Get This Please!" — A Year with Jesus for 03/01/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

Don't miss this truth: "The Son of Man didn't come to ruin the lives of people, but He came to liberate them." No matter what happens to Me on the way to the cross, I won't use My power for Myself or My preservation even though I have the power to defend Myself and defeat every enemy I have to face. I came to liberate people. I came to liberate you!

I came to liberate you from your fear about the future, your fear about your work and worship being wasted, and your fear about death.

I came to liberate you from the human principle of retaliation and the mistaken notion that violence in return for violence can bring peace.

I came to liberate you from the stranglehold of demonic powers and the fear of death.

I came to liberate you from having to prove you are significant, worthy, and acceptable to God.

I came to liberate you from the mistaken notion that everyone will accept Me. Don't grow angry with those who reject Me or become retaliatory against those who push Me away. There are many others who need Me and My grace; move on from those who reject Me and My message and reach those who are seeking and searching.

Once again, I remind you: "The Son of Man didn't come to ruin the lives of people, but He came to liberate them."
Verses to Live

Yesterday we talked about the dumb things My disciples did out of fear and confusion. Today you see James and John at it again, wanting to do something stupid and insensitive out of confusion and fear. Notice how I point them farther down the road to other people who need to know about Me rather than letting them become focused on their anger at those who rejected Me. Looks like My followers need to hear the same message in your day!
The time approached for Him to be taken back up to the Father; so strong with resolve, Jesus made Jerusalem His destination.

He sent some people ahead of Him into the territory of the Samaritans, a minority group at odds with the Jewish majority. He wanted His messengers to find a place for them to stay in a village along the road to Jerusalem. But because the Samaritans realized Jesus was going to Jerusalem, they refused to welcome them.

James and John (outraged):
Lord, do You want us to call down fire from heaven to destroy these people who have rejected You?

Jesus (turning toward them and shaking His head):
You just don't get it. The Son of Man didn't come to ruin the lives of people, but He came to liberate them.

He led them on toward another village

(Luke 9:51-56)
Response in Prayer

Almighty God, help me remain focused on why Jesus came and why You sent Him into our world. In everything I do to reach and teach the lost, I want to reflect the purpose, character, and compassion of Jesus, in Whose name I offer this prayer. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Heartlight is proud to support and promote Compassion International.
© 1998-2014, Heartlight Inc.


"What Will You Decide?" — A Year with Jesus for 03/02/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious One,

Do you really want to know whether or not I came from God or I am a fraud?

First, you need to realize that is the real question. I don't allow you any middle ground in response to this question. I'm either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. No other options. I won't let you make me into another nice religious leader who teaches and does good things. I either came from God, spoke the words of God, and was present among you as God in the flesh, or I was a self-deceived leader, a charlatan of intentional deception, or a deeply demented religious nut. You have to decide this question for yourself!

In the verses below, you notice that the crowds are wrestling with the radical extremes of this crucial question. They realize that I AM claiming that I come from God, that I speak for God, and that I AM among them as the Son of God. So as you read the interchange of the people in the crowd in the verses below, realize they are asking you to face the same radical choice they were having to make!

Second, there is a watershed truth, a continental-divide type of question that helps you make the right decision about My true identity. Examine My words and let them challenge you to face the truth of your own heart:
If anyone is willing to act according to His [Father's] purposes and is open to hearing truth, he will know the source of My teaching. Does it come from God or from Me?

Are you willing to do what God asks you to do and are you open to hearing the truth of God? These are eternally important questions! Some of what I say and some of what I do will not make sense to you. There are things about Me that you cannot know or discover on your own; you have to accept them by faith from a heart that is in search of God's truth and willing to do it no matter the cost.

If you are not willing to do what God asks of you and you are not open to hearing all the truth, then I can assure you, you can find a way to reject Me. Yes, even if I do miracles, make My presence known in your life, or speak to you in dreams, you can find a way to reject Me if your heart doesn't yearn for the truth of God!

So join the crowd in the verses below. Ask the questions they ask. Most of all, hear the words that I speak to them, because I AM speaking them to you as well.
Verses to Live

In the following account, there are people who did not believe in Me, people who were uncertain about Me, and people who did believe in Me. Notice their questions as you read the following verses. My beloved disciple John wrote his gospel to help answer that question:
Jesus performed many other wondrous signs that are not written in this book. These accounts are recorded so that you, too, might believe that Jesus is the Anointed, the Liberating King, the Son of God, because believing grants you the life He came to share. (John 20:30-31)
So what will you decide about Me?
This conversation [between Jesus and His unbelieving brothers] came to an abrupt end, and Jesus stayed in Galilee until His brothers were gone. Then He, too, went up to Jerusalem. But He traveled in secret to avoid drawing any public attention. Some Jewish leaders were searching for Him at the feast and asking the crowds where they could find Him. The crowds would talk in groups: some favored Jesus and thought He was a good man; others disliked Him and thought He was leading people astray. All of these conversations took place in whispers. No one was willing to speak openly about Jesus for fear of the religious leaders.

In the middle of the festival, Jesus marched directly into the temple and started to teach. Some of the Jews who heard Him were amazed at Jesus' ability, and people questioned repeatedly:

Jews:
How can this man be so wise about the Hebrew Scriptures? He has never had a formal education.

Jesus:
I do not claim ownership of My words; they are a gift from the One who sent Me. If anyone is willing to act according to His purposes and is open to hearing truth, he will know the source of My teaching. Does it come from God or from Me? If a man speaks his own words, constantly quoting himself, he is after adulation. But I chase only after glory for the One who sent Me. My intention is authentic and true. You'll find no wrong motives in Me.

Moses gave you the law, didn't he? Then how can you blatantly ignore the law and look for an opportunity to murder Me?

Crowd:
You must be possessed with a demon! Who is trying to kill You?

Jesus:
Listen, all it took was for Me to do one thing, heal a crippled man, and you all were astonished. Don't you remember how Moses passed down circumcision as a tradition of our ancestors? When you pick up a knife to circumcise on the Sabbath, isn't that work? If a male is circumcised on the Sabbath to keep the law of Moses intact, how can making one man whole on the Sabbath be a cause for your violent rage? You should not judge by outward appearance. When you judge, search for what is right and just.

Some People of Jerusalem:
There is the man they are seeking to kill; surely He must be the one. But here He is, speaking out in the open to the crowd, while they have not spoken a word to stop or challenge Him. Do these leaders now believe He is the Anointed One? But He can't be; we know where this man comes from, but the true origin of the Anointed will be a mystery to all of us.

Jesus (speaking aloud as He teaches on the temple's porch):
You think you know Me and where I have come from, but I have not come here on My own. I have been sent by the One who embodies truth. You do not know Him. I know Him because I came from Him. He has sent Me.

Some were trying to seize Him because of His words, but no one laid as much as a finger on Him — His time had not yet arrived. In the crowd, there were many in whom faith was taking hold.

Believers in the Crowd:
When the Anointed arrives, will He perform any more signs than this man has done?

(John 7:9-31)

Response in Prayer

O Father, create in me a pure heart and a willing spirit to do Your will. I know that I need to listen to Your words and obey the things you ask of me. I believe, but some days I need help with my unbelief. So help me guard my heart from what is false and through the Holy Spirit within me I ask you to make my heart ache to hear Your truth and rejoice in doing Your will. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Heartlight is proud to support and promote Compassion International.
© 1998-2014, Heartlight Inc.

What Will You Decide?" — A Year with Jesus for 03/03/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious One,

Do you really want to know whether or not I came from God or I am a fraud?

First, you need to realize that is the real question. I don't allow you any middle ground in response to this question. I'm either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. No other options. I won't let you make me into another nice religious leader who teaches and does good things. I either came from God, spoke the words of God, and was present among you as God in the flesh, or I was a self-deceived leader, a charlatan of intentional deception, or a deeply demented religious nut. You have to decide this question for yourself!

In the verses below, you notice that the crowds are wrestling with the radical extremes of this crucial question. They realize that I AM claiming that I come from God, that I speak for God, and that I AM among them as the Son of God. So as you read the interchange of the people in the crowd in the verses below, realize they are asking you to face the same radical choice they were having to make!

Second, there is a watershed truth, a continental-divide type of question that helps you make the right decision about My true identity. Examine My words and let them challenge you to face the truth of your own heart:
If anyone is willing to act according to His [Father's] purposes and is open to hearing truth, he will know the source of My teaching. Does it come from God or from Me?

Are you willing to do what God asks you to do and are you open to hearing the truth of God? These are eternally important questions! Some of what I say and some of what I do will not make sense to you. There are things about Me that you cannot know or discover on your own; you have to accept them by faith from a heart that is in search of God's truth and willing to do it no matter the cost.

If you are not willing to do what God asks of you and you are not open to hearing all the truth, then I can assure you, you can find a way to reject Me. Yes, even if I do miracles, make My presence known in your life, or speak to you in dreams, you can find a way to reject Me if your heart doesn't yearn for the truth of God!

So join the crowd in the verses below. Ask the questions they ask. Most of all, hear the words that I speak to them, because I AM speaking them to you as well.
Verses to Live

In the following account, there are people who did not believe in Me, people who were uncertain about Me, and people who did believe in Me. Notice their questions as you read the following verses. My beloved disciple John wrote his gospel to help answer that question:
Jesus performed many other wondrous signs that are not written in this book. These accounts are recorded so that you, too, might believe that Jesus is the Anointed, the Liberating King, the Son of God, because believing grants you the life He came to share. (John 20:30-31)
So what will you decide about Me?
This conversation [between Jesus and His unbelieving brothers] came to an abrupt end, and Jesus stayed in Galilee until His brothers were gone. Then He, too, went up to Jerusalem. But He traveled in secret to avoid drawing any public attention. Some Jewish leaders were searching for Him at the feast and asking the crowds where they could find Him. The crowds would talk in groups: some favored Jesus and thought He was a good man; others disliked Him and thought He was leading people astray. All of these conversations took place in whispers. No one was willing to speak openly about Jesus for fear of the religious leaders.

In the middle of the festival, Jesus marched directly into the temple and started to teach. Some of the Jews who heard Him were amazed at Jesus' ability, and people questioned repeatedly:

Jews:
How can this man be so wise about the Hebrew Scriptures? He has never had a formal education.

Jesus:
I do not claim ownership of My words; they are a gift from the One who sent Me. If anyone is willing to act according to His purposes and is open to hearing truth, he will know the source of My teaching. Does it come from God or from Me? If a man speaks his own words, constantly quoting himself, he is after adulation. But I chase only after glory for the One who sent Me. My intention is authentic and true. You'll find no wrong motives in Me.

Moses gave you the law, didn't he? Then how can you blatantly ignore the law and look for an opportunity to murder Me?

Crowd:
You must be possessed with a demon! Who is trying to kill You?

Jesus:
Listen, all it took was for Me to do one thing, heal a crippled man, and you all were astonished. Don't you remember how Moses passed down circumcision as a tradition of our ancestors? When you pick up a knife to circumcise on the Sabbath, isn't that work? If a male is circumcised on the Sabbath to keep the law of Moses intact, how can making one man whole on the Sabbath be a cause for your violent rage? You should not judge by outward appearance. When you judge, search for what is right and just.

Some People of Jerusalem:
There is the man they are seeking to kill; surely He must be the one. But here He is, speaking out in the open to the crowd, while they have not spoken a word to stop or challenge Him. Do these leaders now believe He is the Anointed One? But He can't be; we know where this man comes from, but the true origin of the Anointed will be a mystery to all of us.

Jesus (speaking aloud as He teaches on the temple's porch):
You think you know Me and where I have come from, but I have not come here on My own. I have been sent by the One who embodies truth. You do not know Him. I know Him because I came from Him. He has sent Me.

Some were trying to seize Him because of His words, but no one laid as much as a finger on Him — His time had not yet arrived. In the crowd, there were many in whom faith was taking hold.

Believers in the Crowd:
When the Anointed arrives, will He perform any more signs than this man has done?

(John 7:9-31)

Response in Prayer

O Father, create in me a pure heart and a willing spirit to do Your will. I know that I need to listen to Your words and obey the things you ask of me. I believe, but some days I need help with my unbelief. So help me guard my heart from what is false and through the Holy Spirit within me I ask you to make my heart ache to hear Your truth and rejoice in doing Your will. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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© 1998-2014, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Fri 28 Feb 2014, 6:39 pm

Listen to Him!" — A Year with Jesus for 02/26/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

To whom are you listening? Let Me put that in plainer language, but poorer English: "Who are you listening to most in your life?"

The one you choose to hear and what you believe of what you hear impacts your life choices. You can listen to many voices. You can listen to your "inner me" voice to tell yourself what you think of yourself. You can listen to the voice of your past hurts, failures, disappointments, and disasters. You can choose to listen to the voice of an enemy, critic, coach, teacher, or professor. You can choose to believe the words of your favorite songwriter, favorite movie star, or favorite sports hero. You can live in the shadow of the words of a family member, boss, friend, or even an enemy. The choices seem endless.

So I'm going to ask My question to you again: "To whom are you listening most in your life?"

Peter, James, and John — My very closest disciples — are with Me during an amazing and bewildering experience. In fact, something happened to them in this experience that they had to believe at the time was the greatest thing they had ever witnessed: they saw Moses and Elijah. For every faithful Jew up until this time, Moses was the greatest leader of God's people: he gave God's People the Torah. For every believing Israelite up until this time, Elijah was greatest prophet of all the prophets: he spoke the very words of God with courage, and when necessary, miraculous power. Here I was with these two heroes. That meant I was something truly special and they were My friends. Peter couldn't imagine anything better than building a shrine to each of us. In this moment, Peter suddenly realized that his friend Jesus was as great as Moses and Elijah. Poor Peter, he just didn't know what he was saying and what he would learn through his life of following Me!

The Father, however, wanted them all to know the truth: that Someone far greater than Moses and Elijah had come and was among them. That greater One is Me — Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God!

The Father wanted My disciples to know that I wasn't just another good religious teacher with great things to say. The Father wanted them to realize that I AM the ONE to Whom they must listen above all others, that I AM greater than the greatest of all other heroes they could imagine! The Father said:
This is My Son! This is the One I have chosen! Listen to Him!


So I'm going to ask My question to you again: "To whom are you listening most in your life?"
Verses to Live

The intro to this story about My time with Peter, James, and John sounds eerily like a story on the night of My arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-53). I am praying. My closest disciples are sleeping. They can't grasp My identity tied to any threat of being killed. They are confused by what happens. Their loyalty to Me is challenged. And, they see My glory, but revealed in shockingly different ways. Each event — My transfiguration described in the verses below and My passion — demands that they look to Me and listen to Me. In this event, the Father demands that they, and you dear friend, listen to Me as your truth. The later event, the passion (betrayal, trials, crucifixion, and resurrection), demands it out of love for what I did for you. So I ask you one last time: "To whom are you listening?"
Those words had about eight days to settle in with the disciples. Then, once again, Jesus went away to pray. This time He took along only Peter, John, and James. They climbed a mountainside and came to a place of solitude.

Jesus began to pray and the disciples tried to stay awake, but their eyes grew heavier and heavier and finally they all fell asleep. When they awakened, they looked over at Jesus and saw something inexplicable happening. Jesus was changing before their eyes, beginning with His face. It seemed to glow. The glow spread, and even His clothing took on a blinding whiteness. Then, two figures appeared in the glorious radiance emanating from Jesus. The three disciples somehow knew that these figures were Moses and Elijah. Peter, James, and John overheard the conversation that took place among Jesus, Moses, and Elijah — a conversation that centered on Jesus' "departure" and how He would accomplish this departure from the capital city, Jerusalem.

The glow began to fade, and it was clear that Moses and Elijah were about to disappear.

Peter (to Jesus):
Please, Master, it is good for us to be here and see this. Can we make three structures — one to honor You, one to honor Moses, and one to honor Elijah, to try to capture what's happening here?

Peter had no idea what he was saying.

While he spoke a cloud descended, and they were enveloped in it, and fear fell on them. Then a voice came out of everywhere and nowhere at once.

Voice from Heaven:
This is My Son! This is the One I have chosen! Listen to Him!

Then the voice was silent, the cloud disappeared, and Moses and Elijah were gone. Peter, James, and John were left speechless, stunned, staring at Jesus who now stood before them alone. For a long time, they did not say a word about this whole experience.

(Luke 9:28-36)
Response in Prayer

O Father, help me keep my heart, mind, and ears focused on Jesus. I want to hear His voice, obey His words, follow His example. Dear Father, like Jesus, I want to fulfill Your will for my life so I choose to listen to Jesus as my Lord — to let His words and His example be the filter through which I understand Your scriptures and for Him to be the goal of My life. In His name, Jesus my Savior and Lord, I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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© 1998-2014, Heartlight Inc.

 
"At the Bottom of the Mountain" — A Year with Jesus for 02/27/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God,

I know that you love mountain-top experiences. Unfortunately, sooner or later you have to come down from the mountain and face the realities of life on earth. As you read the verses below from Luke the physician, remember that I had to face very similar realities when I came down from My mountain-top experiences with the Father and with My disciples.

When I came down from the Mount of Transfiguration, I faced several very frustrating realities:
The crowds that swarmed Me everywhere I went were waiting for Me at the bottom of the mountain. I loved the people, but the crowds were not really interested in Who I AM or in coming to faith. They were mostly interested in what they could get from Me. Dealing with the crowds in My ministry was hard work for Me.
There was a man who had a very difficult situation with his son. I hate for Satan to hold anyone in his evil grip or torment any family. This situation needed a remedy, but the man and his son had not received one.
My disciples, who had been given authoritative power and had recently been personally involved in several miraculous experiences, found themselves "incapable" of helping the man and his son. Their lack of faith was frustrating and disappointing to Me.

However, I want you to notice what I did in this situation.

Rather than getting knocked off track by the crowds and the lack of faithful and decisive action by My disciples, I did what needed to be done for this loving father and his demon-afflicted son. I made the boy whole and freed him from the demonic spirit that troubled him. God was praised by the crowd and a family was restored — full shalom was given in the face of demonic attack!
Verses to Live

So here are several things I hope that you will take away from Luke's telling of this event in My life.

First, I experienced great frustration in having mountain-top experiences and then being brought back down to earth because of deep disappointment with people I knew well and loved. Please remember you are not alone when you face these kinds of frustrations. I know your hurt and I will never leave you or forsake you.

Second, good and godly people don't always do the right thing or even realize the power available to them. It is frustrating and they sometimes need to be sternly reminded to expect more, but don't give up on them.

Third, remember the point in ministering to people: Don't minister to get glory for yourself, but to bless those who hurt, to bring praise to the Father, and to bless the Father's children with joy.

Before the events in the accompanying scripture, Peter, James, and John had just witnessed My transfiguration — they experienced Me in My glory with Moses and Elijah. The Father told them to listen to Me! After this glorious experience, this glimpse of kingdom power, they were soon brought back to earth by what awaited them.

They came down the mountain, and the next day yet another huge crowd gathered around Jesus. There was a man in the crowd who shouted out.

Man in Crowd:
Teacher! Please come and look at my son here, my only child. From time to time, a demonic spirit seizes him. It makes him scream and go into convulsions. He foams at the mouth. It nearly destroys him and only leaves after causing him great distress. While You were up on the mountain, I begged Your disciples to liberate him from this spirit, but they were incapable of helping us.

Jesus:
O generation faithless, twisted, and crooked, how long can I be with you? How much can I bear? Bring your boy here.

The boy had taken a few steps toward Jesus when suddenly the demon seemed to rip into the boy, throwing him into convulsions. Jesus spoke sternly to the demonic spirit, and the boy was healed. Jesus presented the boy to his father.

The crowd began cheering and discussing this amazing healing and the power of God...

(Luke 9:37-43)
Response in Prayer

O Father in heaven, I confess that I get frustrated with Your people who can't seem to get it. I am even more frustrated with myself because I often don't trust that You can use me to do Your great work of blessing others. So today, dear Father, I ask for a holy balance of patience and passion. I pray for personal faith to trust that You, O Father, are the great "Enabler" — that You can make my insufficiencies into effective capabilities! I pray for patience with the spiritual development of others and myself, yet ask for an urgent passion to believe that Jesus can do great things through our efforts to bless others and bring You glory. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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"The Blindness of Fear" — A Year with Jesus for 02/28/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

Have you ever been blinded by fear? Have your decisions ever been erratic or inappropriate because you were acting out of fear and confusion? Have you ever done something really stupid because you were trying to deny oncoming reality and wanted to do anything possible to avoid finding out what might happen?

Don't be too hard on My disciples in the events you read about below. They really look like insensitive clods in several of the next events in My life because they were confused and fearful. They have risked everything to follow Me, so they are having a hard time processing My repeated warnings of my impending crucifixion. As Luke describes it below, "they felt too afraid to ask" Me what I was describing.

Let those words settle into your heart — "they felt too afraid to ask"!

Most people reach this place of fear at some point in their lives. They need to know, they need to understand what is about to happen, they need to realize what is ahead, but... they feel too afraid to ask anyone, including Me, about what lies ahead. So they end up in arguments over "stupid and vain" questions. In the face of fear, they need to know they belong to Me and are important to Me.

So please know the following truths:

First, I don't need you to have all the answers, but I do want you to serve those who are vulnerable.

Second, don't discount the good things others do in My name just because you don't recognize them as part of your group. If they are doing good in My name, then I can use their efforts for the good of the kingdom. 

Third, beloved disciple, don't be too hard on yourself when fear grips you and blinds you about your future and leads you to do or say dumb, insensitive, or inappropriate things. Remember, there will never be a place that you travel in this life that I will not go with you and ultimately bring you safely home to the Father.
Verses to Live

Be encouraging and tender with those who do dumb things because they are afraid or in denial or find themselves confused about the future. Watch how I work My disciples from this point on as I minister to them on My way to the crucifixion and resurrection. While I do get frustrated with them at times, notice how I warn them of the truth and prepare them for what lies ahead. Notice the promises I leave them about the future and that I will not abandon them, but send the Spirit to them. Especially notice how I leave seeds of truth for them to discover as the events unfold, seeds of truth that give them strength for their important ministry ahead. The following verses are just the first stage in My journey to Jerusalem where rejection and the cross await me. So watch how I treat those closest to Me in this journey into the heart of their fears.
Jesus:
Listen. Listen hard. Let these words get down deep: the Son of Man is going to be turned over to the authorities and arrested.

They had no idea what He meant by this; they heard the words but missed the meaning, and they felt too afraid to ask Him to explain further.

Later the close followers of Jesus began to argue over the stupid and vain question, "Which one of us is the greatest disciple?"

Jesus saw what was going on — not just the argument, but the deeper heart issues — so He found a child and had the child stand beside Him.

Jesus:
See this little one? Whoever welcomes a little child in My name welcomes Me. And whoever welcomes Me welcomes the One who sent Me. The smallest one among you is therefore the greatest.

John:
Master, we found this fellow casting out demons. He said he was doing it in Your name, but he's not one of our group. So we told him to stop.

Jesus:
What? No! Don't think like that! Whoever is not working against you is working with you.

(Luke 9:44-50)
Response in Prayer

Dear Father, sometimes fear about things I cannot control makes me do dumb things. Sometimes, dear Father, fear about the future for those I love makes my heart waver and my faith weak. Please, dear God, hear my prayers. Show me Your presence. Give me strength to face each tomorrow. In my confusion and frustration, I need to experience Your nearness or I am not sure I can handle what is ahead or minister to others in a way that blesses them and honors You. In Jesus' name I offer up my heart and my deepest fears to You. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 27 Feb 2014, 12:03 am

Listen to Him!" — A Year with Jesus for 02/26/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

To whom are you listening? Let Me put that in plainer language, but poorer English: "Who are you listening to most in your life?"

The one you choose to hear and what you believe of what you hear impacts your life choices. You can listen to many voices. You can listen to your "inner me" voice to tell yourself what you think of yourself. You can listen to the voice of your past hurts, failures, disappointments, and disasters. You can choose to listen to the voice of an enemy, critic, coach, teacher, or professor. You can choose to believe the words of your favorite songwriter, favorite movie star, or favorite sports hero. You can live in the shadow of the words of a family member, boss, friend, or even an enemy. The choices seem endless.

So I'm going to ask My question to you again: "To whom are you listening most in your life?"

Peter, James, and John — My very closest disciples — are with Me during an amazing and bewildering experience. In fact, something happened to them in this experience that they had to believe at the time was the greatest thing they had ever witnessed: they saw Moses and Elijah. For every faithful Jew up until this time, Moses was the greatest leader of God's people: he gave God's People the Torah. For every believing Israelite up until this time, Elijah was greatest prophet of all the prophets: he spoke the very words of God with courage, and when necessary, miraculous power. Here I was with these two heroes. That meant I was something truly special and they were My friends. Peter couldn't imagine anything better than building a shrine to each of us. In this moment, Peter suddenly realized that his friend Jesus was as great as Moses and Elijah. Poor Peter, he just didn't know what he was saying and what he would learn through his life of following Me!

The Father, however, wanted them all to know the truth: that Someone far greater than Moses and Elijah had come and was among them. That greater One is Me — Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God!

The Father wanted My disciples to know that I wasn't just another good religious teacher with great things to say. The Father wanted them to realize that I AM the ONE to Whom they must listen above all others, that I AM greater than the greatest of all other heroes they could imagine! The Father said:
This is My Son! This is the One I have chosen! Listen to Him!


So I'm going to ask My question to you again: "To whom are you listening most in your life?"
Verses to Live

The intro to this story about My time with Peter, James, and John sounds eerily like a story on the night of My arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-53). I am praying. My closest disciples are sleeping. They can't grasp My identity tied to any threat of being killed. They are confused by what happens. Their loyalty to Me is challenged. And, they see My glory, but revealed in shockingly different ways. Each event — My transfiguration described in the verses below and My passion — demands that they look to Me and listen to Me. In this event, the Father demands that they, and you dear friend, listen to Me as your truth. The later event, the passion (betrayal, trials, crucifixion, and resurrection), demands it out of love for what I did for you. So I ask you one last time: "To whom are you listening?"
Those words had about eight days to settle in with the disciples. Then, once again, Jesus went away to pray. This time He took along only Peter, John, and James. They climbed a mountainside and came to a place of solitude.

Jesus began to pray and the disciples tried to stay awake, but their eyes grew heavier and heavier and finally they all fell asleep. When they awakened, they looked over at Jesus and saw something inexplicable happening. Jesus was changing before their eyes, beginning with His face. It seemed to glow. The glow spread, and even His clothing took on a blinding whiteness. Then, two figures appeared in the glorious radiance emanating from Jesus. The three disciples somehow knew that these figures were Moses and Elijah. Peter, James, and John overheard the conversation that took place among Jesus, Moses, and Elijah — a conversation that centered on Jesus' "departure" and how He would accomplish this departure from the capital city, Jerusalem.

The glow began to fade, and it was clear that Moses and Elijah were about to disappear.

Peter (to Jesus):
Please, Master, it is good for us to be here and see this. Can we make three structures — one to honor You, one to honor Moses, and one to honor Elijah, to try to capture what's happening here?

Peter had no idea what he was saying.

While he spoke a cloud descended, and they were enveloped in it, and fear fell on them. Then a voice came out of everywhere and nowhere at once.

Voice from Heaven:
This is My Son! This is the One I have chosen! Listen to Him!

Then the voice was silent, the cloud disappeared, and Moses and Elijah were gone. Peter, James, and John were left speechless, stunned, staring at Jesus who now stood before them alone. For a long time, they did not say a word about this whole experience.

(Luke 9:28-36)
Response in Prayer

O Father, help me keep my heart, mind, and ears focused on Jesus. I want to hear His voice, obey His words, follow His example. Dear Father, like Jesus, I want to fulfill Your will for my life so I choose to listen to Jesus as my Lord — to let His words and His example be the filter through which I understand Your scriptures and for Him to be the goal of My life. In His name, Jesus my Savior and Lord, I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 25 Feb 2014, 10:28 pm

"The Question" — A Year with Jesus for 02/25/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

You live in a time when many people want to be celebrities. They will do almost anything to be seen and known. They want to have — as you like to call it — their 15 minutes of fame and will do almost anything to get it. So My first question shouldn't surprise you. The first question I asked (see the Bible verses below) is the question that most people wanting to appear important and looking for notoriety ask:
What are the people saying about Me?

(Luke 9:18)
In your world, these people would want to know how many "friends" and "likes" they have on Facebook® or how many followers and retweets they have had on Twitter®.

My disciples answered this question very honestly. The speculation among the people in the crowds on my identity linked Me with important prophets from the past. For someone wanting to be popular, this would have been a good thing — just what a publicity-hungry person would have been hoping to hear. "You're as important as one of the great prophets — old and new!" 

Not Me. This is not what I wanted. In fact, I was commanding folks not to tell about My miracles and mighty deeds. I wanted to reveal My identity gradually. Also, I didn't want to be seen only as a powerful person come from God who could do great miracles. I also wanted people to know Me as the suffering servant promised by the prophets — someone willing to give His life to ransom many others from the clutches of the evil one!

For Me, that first question was just a warm up question. It was My way to get My disciples thinking about Who I AM. I wanted them to be ready to answer My question:
Ah, but what about you? Who do you say that I am?

(Luke 9:20).


That question, dear friend, is what I want to ask you today:
Ah, but what about you? Who do you say that I am?

(Luke 9:20).

Verses to Live

"Who do you say that I am?" is the most important question you will ever answer. Yes, there are other very important questions of eternal significance. Yes, there are important decisions that follow, but this question is your eternal watershed moment: "Who do you say that I am?" If you truly know Me, then you know that gaining everything that the world has to offer and yet losing Me means that you've lost everything — the Source of life within you, the hope of heaven, and your own soul. Yet if you lose all of your possessions, and even your physical life for Me, then you still have Me and you have gained everything!
Once Jesus was praying in solitude. [This was after having done many mighty miracles, fed over 5,000, walked on water, challenged the people with hard teachings, and gone into the non-Jewish areas of Sidon and Decapolis — also known as the region of Ten Cities.] The disciples were nearby, and He came to them with a question.

Jesus:
What are the people saying about Me?

Disciples:
Some people think You're John the Baptist. Others say You're the prophet Elijah, or else one of the other ancient prophets who has come back from the dead.

Jesus:
Ah, but what about you? Who do you say that I am?

Peter:
God's Anointed, the Liberating King.

Jesus (sternly):
Don't tell anyone this. The Son of Man must suffer intensely. He must be rejected by the religious establishment—the elders, the chief priests, the religious scholars. Then He will be killed. And then, on the third day He will be raised.

If any of you want to walk My path, you're going to have to deny yourself. You'll have to take up your cross every day and follow Me. If you try to avoid danger and risk, then you'll lose everything. If you let go of your life and risk all for My sake, then your life will be rescued, healed, made whole and full. Listen, what good does it do you if you gain everything — if the whole world is in your pocket — but then your own life slips through your fingers and is lost to you?

If you're ashamed of who I am and what I teach, then the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when He comes in all His glory, the glory of the Father, and the glory of the holy messengers. Are you ready for this? I'm telling you the truth: some of you will not taste death until your eyes see the kingdom of God.
(Luke 9:18-27)
Response in Prayer

Loving Father, life gets busy and crashes in around me with problems, distractions, and things to get accomplished. In the busy-ness of it all, I can lose conscious track of Jesus in my life. I let the urgent things crowd out my time with Him and my loyalty to Him. I confess it, but it hurts to admit: sometimes I just forget about Jesus in the rush of my life. At times — and you know this dear Father — I feel disconnected and un-surrendered to Jesus. I catch myself trying to work some "Jesus stuff" into the few vacant corners of my schedule so I don't feel guilty about abandoning my relationship with him. I don't like that, Father, but I find that it happens all too often. So I ask that You help reconnect me fully to the Lord Jesus — through these daily times together, through my Bible reading, and through my friends. I ask this, and confess this, dear Father, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Mon 24 Feb 2014, 10:45 pm

"Little Things, Big Differences" — A Year with Jesus for 02/24/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

Yesterday I talked to you about how important a person's heart is. The Jewish religious leaders had made all sorts of rules to make sure the people of God kept themselves ritually clean. Matthew and Mark placed My words right before the events you read about today to help you see a key point I made in My life. While My earthly ministry was focused on "the lost sheep of Israel" (Matthew 15:24), I reached out to people normally considered "unclean" by My Jewish peers.

Tyre and Sidon were places where old enemies of the Jewish people lived. My very presence there, especially with My ministry to these non-Jews, was very shocking. Then I traveled back to the region on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, Decapolis or Ten Cities, another largely non-Jewish area. I blessed, taught, and healed in this region just as I did in Tyre and Sidon. So the focus of My work was once again on people's hearts. Were they open and receptive? Were they seeking after God? Did they long for grace? My focus was not on race, nationality, or ethnicity. I was willing to help, bless, and be with people many of My fellow Jews would have considered "unclean"!

This is very important for you to know when you read the story of the woman from Syrophoenicia. My words are a little distorted by your translations because you can't hear the subtle nuance of one letter — the tiny "i" (iota in Greek) that turns a dog (kunaron) into a puppy (kunarion) and change My words from an ugly ethnic slur into an invitation for faith.

So often people of different races use slurs to dismiss the value of another person. I used this practice with a twist to invite the woman from Syrophoenicia to display both her wit and her faith. She was desperate and wanted help. She came expecting to be called a strange and mangy dog — the way many Jews would have referred to her and she would have referred to them. However, I took the term and softened it to mean puppy or lap dog — something that was often considered a part of the family. She instantly seized on this play on words. Instead of taking offense, she responded showing her heart: "O yes, Jesus, you are right. But in a family, the little puppies eat the crumbs that fall from the table!" She wasn't just bodily kneeling at My feet; she came with her heart bowed down to receive My grace and help for her daughter!

She got it! I wasn't pushing her away, but inviting her in close if her faith could see through the fog of racial and cultural separation and suspicion. Thankfully, she did! She displayed incredible faith because she was determined to have My powerful grace change her daughter's condition.

After My resurrection, I sent My disciples to share My message and My grace with every nation of the world and every ethnic group on the planet. Yet even during My earthly ministry focused primarily on the people of Israel, you can find many non-Jews brought to My table of grace and mercy. All of these people, Jews and non-Jews, had to do something if they were going to follow Me: they had to repent — change their heart, mind, and behavior about how to live and believe that I came from the Father to bring them life.

So let Me ask you this important question as you read My story today: What would keep you from following Me? A supposed racial slur? A hard command? The challenge to change your cultural views? An unwillingness to leave your racial prejudice behind?

As hard as My call to give up yourself and follow Me may seem, realize underneath it there is My great tenderness and love for you. I want you like the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman: "whole and healthy"!
Verses to Live

While each person must surrender his or her heart to me in faith, I want you to notice two things in the following two events Luke tells in the verses below.

First, someone who loves a person in need gets that person to me. Their faith becomes the key to unlock God's grace in the life of that other person! The woman comes and gets My help for her daughter at great social risk. In the second event, a group of friends brought a person with deep needs to Me and begged Me to help. Without their urgency and their voice, the man with deep needs would have not had his hurts articulated and his need made known. What a wonderful example of a mother with courage and faith! What great friends of determination and faith!

Second, notice that the Father's love, the love that My actions demonstrate, is shared freely with all — man and woman, young and old, Jew and Gentile, regardless of region, culture, or nationality. My love is for all, and there will be times when you will need to help someone who feels helpless and alone to find her or his way to me!
From there [by the Sea of Galilee] Jesus and His followers traveled to the region of Tyre and Sidon on the Mediterranean coast. He hoped to slip unnoticed into a house, but people discovered His presence. Shortly after He arrived, a woman whose daughter was filled with an unclean spirit heard that He was there, so she came directly to Him and prostrated herself at His feet.

The woman was not a Jew, but a Syrophoenician (a Greek) by birth. All the same, she came to Jesus and begged Him to cast the unclean spirit out of her daughter.

Jesus (shaking His head):
I must feed the children first. It would do no good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.

Syrophoenician Woman:
Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table may eat of the children's crumbs.

Jesus (smiling and nodding):
This is a wise saying. Go back home. Your daughter is free of the spirit that troubled her.

And when she returned to her house, she discovered that it was as Jesus had told her. Her daughter lay on her bed, in her right mind, whole and healthy.

Jesus traveled on His way through Tyre and Sidon, eventually returning to the region of the Sea of Galilee. From there He pressed on to the area of the Ten Cities. Among the sick who were brought to Him was a man who was deaf and could barely speak at all, and those who brought him begged Jesus to lay His hands on the man. Jesus took him aside from the crowd, alone, and touched his ears with His fingers. Then after spitting on His fingers, Jesus touched the man's tongue. Looking heavenward to God, Jesus sighed and commanded,

Jesus:
Open up and let this man speak.

Immediately the man could hear, his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly. Jesus ordered those who had witnessed this to tell no one; but the more He insisted, the more zealously people spread the word.

People (astonished):
He does everything so well! He even returns sound to the deaf and mute.

(Mark 7:24-37)
Response in Prayer

Almighty God and loving Father, I confess that there are things I am having a hard time surrendering to You. Sometimes I find myself wanting to maintain control of my life and wanting to decide what I think is best for me. Yet as I see this woman look past the apparent harsh words of Jesus and as I hear the tenderness of Jesus, I am convicted. I am convicted, dear Father, that I need to surrender all of my heart and all of will to Jesus as my Lord. I need to let go of trying to control my circumstances and decide what is best for myself. Please help me as I yield to Jesus and ask for His help, wisdom and power. It is in His name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sun 23 Feb 2014, 7:48 pm

"Rules versus Right Hearts" — A Year with Jesus for 02/23/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

You are probably aware that I had many arguments with the Pharisees, Scribes, and Scholars during My time on earth. I want you to understand something very important about those disagreements. I agreed with these people on nearly everything they taught about the morality that God wants for His people. Where I disagreed with them was on the way to achieve this moral behavior. Their goal was to create a set of rules — called the (oral) traditions of the ancestors — that were taught as God's law. These rules were designed to be a hedge around the Torah to prevent anyone from getting close to breaking the commands of God.

Their desire was good — to honor the character and compassion of God in their behavior. Their design was severely flawed — external rules cannot create a holy person; true transformation has to come from the heart.

While some have tried to make My teaching into something soft and easy to fit their lifestyles, if you look carefully at My teachings, you will see that is not the case. However, I want people to examine their hearts. I want them to look deeper than a set of rules and listen for the heart and will of God in His commands. To put it into the language of the issues in the verses below, let Me say it clearly: I came to be a heart surgeon and not a handwasher!

External rules cannot get to the real issue that lies behind all behavior: the heart! Listen to the words of the Father through the prophet Ezekiel:
I will give them a new will — an undivided heart — and plant a new spirit within them; I will remove their cold, stony heart and replace it with a warm heart of flesh. Then they will follow My commands and uphold My laws and actually do as I say. They will be My people, and I will be their God.

(Ezekiel 11:19-20).
I came to try to win your heart to God and to transform it by the power of the Holy Spirit living in you!

Don't think that there are no people like Pharisees in your day. All around, people have turned discipleship into rule keeping, thinking they can make rules to keep people holy. It doesn't work. The apostle Paul had to deal with the problem a few decades after My resurrection. Notice what he said about rule-keeping to the Colossians:
You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, "Don't handle! Don't taste! Don't touch!"? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.

(Colossians 2:20-23 NLT)


The solution to this problem? A new, clean, and right heart. King David wrestled with ungodliness and did some despicable things. Yet he realized the power to change was not in making harder sets of rules, but in asking God for a cleansed and transformed heart that could change him from the inside out:
Create in me a clean heart, O God; restore within me a sense of being brand new. .. Give back to me the deep delight of being saved by You; let Your willing Spirit sustain me.

(Psalm 51:10-12)


Verses to Live

As a baptized believer, I have sent the Holy Spirit to live within you. The Holy Spirit is at work to transform you from the inside out. However, you need to offer your heart to Me each day. Ask Me to do the work you cannot do on your own, to cleanse and to transform the desires of your heart. Rules cannot change your heart and can only alter some of your behavior for awhile. Before long, your rules will become more important than the will of God and your heart can be far away from the heart of God, the very God you are trying to please with your rules!
Then the Pharisees returned to talk with Jesus [after He had healed many people (Mark 6:53-56)], and with them came some of the scribes and scholars from Jerusalem.

Scribes and Scholars (seeing the disciples eating):
Your disciples are eating bread with defiled, unwashed hands.

Now you need to know that the Pharisees, and all Jews for tha! t matter, held the tradition of their ancestors that hands must be washed before eating to avoid being ritually unclean. Likewise, they washed when they returned from the market and followed similar purity teachings as well, from the washing of their food to the washing of their bowls, cups, and kettles.

Scribes and Pharisees:
Why don't Your disciples follow the traditions passed down to us? Why do they eat their bread with defiled hands?

Jesus:
Isaiah prophesied wisely about your religious pretensions when he wrote,
These people honor Me with words off their lips;
meanwhile their hearts are far from Me.
Their worship is empty, void of true devotion.
They teach a human commandment, memorized and practiced by rote.
When you cling blindly to your own traditions such as washing utensils and cups, you completely miss God's command. Then, indeed, you have perfected setting aside God's commands for the sake of your tradition. Moses gave you God's commandment: "Honor your father and your mother." And also, "If you curse your father or your mother, you will be put to death." But you say to your aged parents, "I've decided that the support you were expecting from me will now be the holy offering set aside for God." After that he is not allowed to do anything for his parents. Do you think God wants you to honor your traditions that you have passed down? This is only one of many places where you are blind.

Jesus (to the crowd that had gathered):
Listen, all of you, to this teaching. I want you to understand. There is nothing outside someone that can corrupt him. Only the things that come out of a person can corrupt him. All who have ears to hear, let them listen.

When they had come in from the road, His disciples asked Him what He meant by this teaching.

Jesus:
Do you mean you don't understand this one either? Whatever goes into people from outside can't defile them because it doesn't go into their hearts. Outside things go through their guts and back out, thus making all foods pure. No, it's what comes from within that corrupts. It's what grows out of the hearts of people that leads to corruption: evil thoughts, immoral sex, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wicked acts, treachery, sensuality, jealousy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All of these come from within, and these are the sins that truly corrupt a person.

(Mark 7:1-23)
Response in Prayer

O Father, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, for You, O God, are my Rock and my Redeemer. I offer My heart to Jesus today, to be molded and shaped to honor Your will and reflect Your character and compassion. I ask that you create a clean heart in Me. Fill me with your Spirit and transform my desires and my behaviors to be like Jesus, in whose name I ask this. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 22 Feb 2014, 9:39 pm

"Take Me Into Your Heart" — A Year with Jesus for 02/22/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God,

Don't miss the heartbreak of the event described in the Scriptures below. Despite all I had done, people turned away from Me. As long as I would do miracles for them, they were quite happy to hang around with Me. But when I would not do their wish list miracles-on-demand, they got testy with Me and My followers. In fact, many quit following Me.

So here's the challenge. You need to take Me — My truth, My power, and My words — into your heart. Some of the things I ask of you will be hard — some of them hard to do and some of them hard to understand. But here's the point: to the best of your ability and empowered by the Holy Spirit within you, do what I ask, believe what I say, and live what I teach. My words are life-giving and life-preserving. The Holy Spirit is at work giving, using, and conforming you to My words.

There will be times when you are confused. Some of that confusion will be because life is hard. Sometimes your confusion will come from your own selfishness and rebelliousness. Some of your confusion will be there because some of what I say can be hard to understand and you are not ready for it. But despite all the shortcomings you can find in Peter and My other apostles, please notice Peter's words — spoken for all of the apostles. I asked if they would walk away from Me, too, and this is what Peter said:
Lord, if we were to go, whom would we follow? You speak the words that give everlasting life. We believe and recognize that You are the Holy One sent by God.

(John 6:68-69)

Verses to Live

Notice all the back-and-forth below in John's account. There is a lot of talk about faith. Bottom line, talk ABOUT faith really doesn't mean much. What matters is what Peter and the apostles do: they risk all to follow Me BECAUSE of their choice to believe in Me even when many are turning away from Me:
Some of the Jews began to grumble quietly against Him because He said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven."

Crowd:
Isn't Jesus the son of Joseph? We know His parents! We know where He came from, so how can He claim to have "come down from heaven"?

Jesus:
Stop grumbling under your breaths. If the Father who sent Me does not draw you, then there's no way you can come to Me. But I will resurrect everyone who does come on the last day. Among the prophets, it's written, "Everyone will be taught of God." So everyone who has heard and learned from the Father finds Me. No one has seen the Father, except the One sent from God. He has seen the Father. I am telling you the truth: the one who accepts these things has eternal life. I am the bread that gives life. Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and they died as you know. But there is another bread that comes from heaven; if you eat this bread, you will not die. I am the living bread that has come down from heaven to rescue those who eat it. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever. The bread that I will give breathes life into the cosmos. This bread is My flesh.

The low whispers of some of Jesus' detractors turned into an out- and- out debate.

Crowd:
What is He talking about? How is He able to give us His flesh to eat?

Jesus:
I tell you the truth; unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you will not know life. If you eat My flesh and drink My blood, then you will have eternal life and I will raise you up at the end of time. My flesh and blood provide true nourishment. If you eat My flesh and drink My blood, you will abide in Me and I will abide in you. The Father of life who sent Me has given life to Me; and as you eat My flesh, I will give life to you. This is bread that came down from heaven; I am not like the manna that your fathers ate and then died! If you eat this bread, your life will never end.

He spoke these words in the synagogue as part of His teaching mission in Capernaum. Many disciples heard what He said, and they had questions of their own.

Disciples:
How are we supposed to understand all of this? It is a hard teaching.

Jesus was aware that even His disciples were murmuring about this.

Jesus:
Has My teaching offended you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascend to return to where He came from? The Spirit brings life. The flesh has nothing to offer. The words I have been teaching you are spirit and life, but some of you do not believe.

From the first day Jesus began to call disciples, He knew those who did not have genuine faith. He knew, too, who would betray Him.

Jesus:
This is why I have been telling you that no one comes to Me without the Father's blessing and guidance.

After hearing these teachings, many of His disciples walked away and no longer followed Jesus.

Jesus (to the twelve):
Do you want to walk away too?

Simon Peter:
Lord, if we were to go, whom would we follow? You speak the words that give everlasting life. We believe and recognize that You are the Holy One sent by God.

Jesus:
I chose each one of you, the twelve, Myself. But one of you is a devil.

This cryptic comment referred to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, for he was the one of the twelve who was going to betray Him.

(John 6:41-71)
Response in Prayer

Holy and Almighty God, I believe that Jesus is Your Son and my Savior. I believe that He has the words of life. I may not always understand them. I may not always want to hear them. I may wrestle with always obeying them, but Father, I do believe that Jesus gives Me the words of life. I choose to believe, obey, and follow Him. I pray, dear Father, for the strength of the Holy Spirit to help me remain faithful to this commitment. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Heartlight is proud to support and promote Compassion International.
© 1998-2014, Heartlight Inc.
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