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HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Mon 24 Apr 2017, 10:38 pm

Great Joy in Believing" — A Year with Jesus for 04/24/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious One,

I know faith is not easy, especially now living nearly two thousand years after My death, burial, and resurrection. So I want us to spend today and the next two days together delighting in your faith. Our tour guide is My impetuous and dramatic apostle, Peter. We will be reading from the opening words of his small letter (1 Peter) to believers in Asia Minor. Like you, those people had never seen Me. They had to take the testimony of others who had. They were facing imminent persecution like many of My followers face right now in a lot of places in the world. Peter wanted to affirm their faith and also to emphasize several great blessings that accompanied their faith. I want you to delight in these things that he said and be blessed. Each day, the special focus sections will be in bold so you won't miss them!

Before sharing the verses from 1 Peter, I want to remind you of the promise I made to Thomas — a promise I shared with you in yesterday's verses:

Eight days later, they [the disciples] gathered again behind locked doors; and Jesus reappeared. This time Thomas was with them.

Jesus:
May each one of you be at peace.
He drew close to Thomas.

Jesus:
Reach out and touch Me. See the punctures in My hands; reach out your hand, and put it to My side; leave behind your faithlessness, and believe.
Thomas (filled with emotion):
You are the one True God and Lord of my life.
Jesus:
Thomas, you have faith because you have seen Me. Blessed are all those who never see Me and yet they still believe.
(John 20:26-29)
Notice those words in bold! I have a special blessing for you — you who believe without having ever seen Me.

Your faith is precious! It stands guard over your heart and protects you to receive a salvation and share in a glory that you won't fully enjoy until you discover it "completely at the end of things." It is more valuable than gold. Your faith gives you something that can't be stolen. That faith has given you something that isn't perishable — it won't wear out or decay. That faith is connecting you to true and eternal salvation.

So today, I want you to take a moment and be thankful for the gift of your faith!

Your faith was planted in your heart and nurtured by someone for whom you should give thanks.

Your faith connects you to Me, and I am more powerful than death and all the forces of hell.

Your faith is protected by the power of God if you are willing to nurture it and rejoice in it.

Your faith is placed in Me and what We — Father, Son, and Spirit — have accomplished in My resurrection from the dead and in the power that is continuously being released into your life as you keep your faith focused on Me.

Your faith is the door of grace opening to you so that you can receive all that salvation is meant to offer you — now and forevermore.

Thank you for believing! I left heaven to win your heart, to give you a reason to believe, and to give you a hope that can endure until we see each other face-to-face and your faith becomes sight and we rejoice together... forever!
Verses to Live

Peter was present when I was talking with Thomas in the verses quoted above from John's gospel. The second paragraph below echoes the things that I said to Thomas about you and others who have faith without having seen Me. Notice the things that Peter associates with your faith: "a living hope," "eternal inheritance," "never fade or fail," "salvation," "praise, honor, and glory," and "joy that is glorious and beyond words."

Blessed is God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! Because He has raised Jesus the Anointed from death, through His great mercy we have been reborn into a living hope — reborn for an eternal inheritance, held in reserve in heaven, that will never fade or fail. Through faith, God's power is standing watch, protecting you for a salvation that you will see completely at the end of things. You should greatly rejoice in what is waiting for you, even if now for a little while you have to suffer various trials. Suffering tests your faith which is more valuable than gold (remember that gold, although it is perishable, is tested by fire) so that if it is found genuine, you can receive praise, honor, and glory when Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, is revealed at last.

Although you haven't seen Jesus, you still love Him. Although you don't yet see Him, you do believe in Him and celebrate with a joy that is glorious and beyond words. You are receiving the salvation of your souls as the result of your faith.
(1 Peter 1:3-9)
Please remember Peter's words. Especially remember them when you are facing difficulties because of your faith. Please remember Peter's words when you are wondering whether it is worthwhile to continue along the path of faith. Peter's words were spoken with the integrity of proven and challenged faith. Peter's words were tested by fire. He had endured hardship, ridicule, threat, and persecution and yet refused to renounce his faith in Me after My resurrection. When facing possible death if he and his fellow apostles continued to proclaim My resurrection, Peter and the apostles said:
If we have to choose between obedience to God and obedience to any human authority, then we must obey God. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from death. You [the religious leaders] killed Jesus by hanging Him on a tree, but God has lifted Him high, to God's own right hand, as the Prince, as the Liberator. God intends to bring Israel to a radical rethinking of our lives and to a complete forgiveness of our sins. We are witnesses to these things. There is another witness, too — the Holy Spirit — Whom God has given to all who choose to obey Him.
(Acts 5:29-32)
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank You for those who first introduced Me to Jesus, for those who nurtured my freshly-born faith, for those who challenged my faith to grow, and thank You for the promised blessings for those of us who believe. I do believe, dear Father; I believe that Jesus is Your Son, the Messiah of Your people Israel and all who believe in Him, and Lord of all creation... as well as my Lord and Savior, in Whose name I pray. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.

HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.

© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sun 23 Apr 2017, 10:37 pm

"The Blessing of Believing" — A Year with Jesus for 04/23/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Seeker of Truth,

Believing in My resurrection is a real challenge. That's understandable. Having a friend who dies and then suddenly appears, offers for you to touch him, shows you his scars, eats bread with you, drinks wine with you, has a bit of fish with you, and then shares your company doesn't happen in your experience. But the most important purpose and meaning for your life hinge on your faith in My resurrection. Paul makes this clear when he says:

Now if we have told you about the Anointed One [Me, Christ] (how He has risen from the dead and appeared to us fully alive), then how can you stand there and say there is no such thing as resurrection from death? Friends, if there is no resurrection of the dead, then even the Anointed hasn't been raised; if that is so, then all our preaching has been for nothing and your faith in the message is worthless. And what's worse, all of us who have been preaching the gospel are now guilty of misrepresenting God because we have been spreading the news that He raised the Anointed One from the dead (which must be a lie if what you are saying about the dead not being raised is the truth).
(1 Corinthians 15:12-15)
Being My disciple hinges on your faith in My resurrection! Sooner or later, if you haven't already done so, you must take the huge step of faith and entrust your future to this reality that is outside your experience.

Helping you to believe in My resurrection is the reason why My interaction with Thomas is so important a week after My resurrection. (See the verses below for this story.) Thomas was not a bad guy. He was not trying to be difficult or problematic. He just wanted to know for sure. He just wanted to know for himself. He would not believe until he saw Me face-to-face and touched my scars. The confession and commitment of Thomas after seeing Me and being able to touch Me, are powerful:
You are the one True God and Lord of my life.
Thomas' confession and commitment are what I want from you concerning Me. Your problem is that I am not there for you to physically touch. That's why I promised you the special blessing that I did:
Thomas, you have faith because you have seen Me. Blessed are all those who never see Me and yet they still believe.
The apostle Peter knew your challenge to believe since you haven't seen Me. He taught and wrote to people who had never seen Me yet believed. He wrote to these disciples about the blessing of believing and the joy such faith brings:
Although you haven't seen Jesus, you still love Him. Although you don't yet see Him, you do believe in Him and celebrate with a joy that is glorious and beyond words. You are receiving the salvation of your souls as the result of your faith.
(1 Peter 1:8-9).
I want you to remember these blessings. I want you to remember these blessings every time you struggle with doubt. I want you to remember these blessings every time someone ridicules you for believing in Me and My resurrection. These blessings are yours because you believe! The Holy Spirit will help you strengthen your faith and have confidence that you can receive these blessings.

Here are a few of the many reasons to believe in My resurrection:
The eyewitnesses who wrote in the New Testament about My resurrection.
People like My own family, and especially My brother James, who did not believe that I was the Messiah and Son of God until seeing Me alive after My resurrection from the dead.
The change in the apostles from men who were scared and hiding to world-changing men of courage, many of whom were martyred for their faith in Me.
The experiences you have had of My presence in your life as you have served Me:
- the times just the right word came from someone else,
- the empowerment I've given you when you were on mission,
- the rich sense of My presence when you've served the needy, and
- the palpable sense of My presence as you've worshiped.
The testimony and resilience of My people over the centuries through oppression, martyrdom, and ostracism.
These are but a few reasons.
Verses to Live

Don't get so hung up on the reasons to believe that you miss the two truths I want you to hear in the verses below:

I know it is hard for many of you to believe — you're like Thomas and many others like him. Keep seeking Me and you will find Me.
There is a great blessing for you who find your way through doubt and come to faith in Me — for you who have never physically seen Me and yet still believe.
Please receive that blessing now as you read about Thomas, his struggle for faith, his incredible confession and commitment, and My blessing for you who believe in Me, yet have never seen Me!
All of the eleven were present with the exception of Thomas [that first Sunday evening after Jesus was raised from the dead]. He heard the accounts of each brother's interaction with the Lord.

The Other Disciples:
We have seen the Lord!
Thomas:
Until I see His hands, feel the wounds of the nails, and put my hand to His side, I won't believe what you are saying.
Eight days later, they gathered again behind locked doors; and Jesus reappeared. This time Thomas was with them.

Jesus:
May each one of you be at peace.
He drew close to Thomas.

Jesus:
Reach out and touch Me. See the punctures in My hands; reach out your hand, and put it to My side; leave behind your faithlessness, and believe.
Thomas (filled with emotion):
You are the one True God and Lord of my life.
Jesus:
Thomas, you have faith because you have seen Me. Blessed are all those who never see Me and yet they still believe.
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 20:24-31)
Response in Prayer

Father in heaven, for many reasons, some of which I don't fully understand, I do truly believe that Jesus was raised from the dead. I ask, dear Father, that the Holy Spirit strengthen that faith and that the Spirit help me to be aware that Jesus is there for me even when I do not perceive His presence. I believe, but I want to believe fully. I long for the day when my faith becomes sight, but I also rejoice that I know this faith inspires my hope and gives me longing for the day I see Jesus face-to-face. Thank You for this hope, dear Father. I thank You in Jesus' name. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.

HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.

© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 22 Apr 2017, 9:51 pm

Resurrection Power" — A Year with Jesus for 04/22/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

The apostle Paul prayed a meaningful and moving prayer for the Christians in Asia Minor. Here is part of his prayer:

I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope He [Jesus] has given those He called — His holy people who are His rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God's power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms.
(Ephesians 1:18-20 NLT)
The power of My resurrection is also at work in you through the Holy Spirit Whom I "poured out" on you "in abundance" (Titus 3:3-7). While you still face the limits of your mortal physical body, you will one day have an immortal, indestructible body like the one I had after My resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:49-57; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2). This resurrection power is already at work in you in many ways. So over the next six weeks, I want to share with you some of the implications of the resurrection power that is at work in you through the Holy Spirit.
Verses to Live

Today, I want to share with you another passage that goes along with Paul's prayer from chapter 1 of Ephesians. Paul found himself in very difficult circumstances again and again. Once when he was in Asia Minor — the place the people lived for whom Paul prayed in the verses above, he faced a terrible, life-threatening situation that should have ended in his death. As he stated in the first part of today's Scripture, he recognized his dire situation. However, he experienced resurrection power first hand as We — Father, Son, and Spirit — miraculously delivered him from death. It wasn't the first time, and it wouldn't be the last time that We did this for Paul. However, the words he used to describe his deliverance are powerful, and I know that they can be a great encouragement to you if you let them. Notice particularly the part in bold below. It's worth memorizing, especially if you are facing a trying ordeal of your own.

My brothers and sisters, we have to tell you that when we were in Asia the troubles we faced were nearly more than we could handle. The burdens we bore nearly crushed us. Our strength dwindled to nothing. For a while, we weren't sure we would make it through the whole ordeal. We thought we would have to serve out our death sentences right then and there. As a result, we realized that we could no longer rely on ourselves and that we must trust solely in God, Who possesses the power to raise the dead. Miraculously God Himself delivered us from the cold hands of death. We again place our hope in Him alone, and we know He will deliver us.
(2 Corinthians 1:8-10)
Response in Prayer

Almighty God — my loving Father, Immanuel, and Comforter — thank You for bringing life to what was dead, hope to those who are hopeless, and help to all who need You. I thank You for the apostle Paul's experiences and his words that give me powerful ways to see the implications of Jesus' resurrection from the dead. Thank You for this grace. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.

© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Fri 21 Apr 2017, 10:42 pm

"Something Good & Beautiful" — A Year with Jesus for 04/21/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

My resurrection from the dead changed everything! As awful as My crucifixion was for the Father and Me, the cost of that suffering doesn't compare to the victory it brought for you because of My resurrection (Hebrews 12:1-2; Romans 4:25; Romans 8:18). My resurrection is the reminder that We — Father, Son, and Spirit — can take the very worst of life and turn it around into something good.

However, the evil one doesn't feel very threatened when you tend to keep My resurrection confined to Easter. Satan is hardly bothered when you praise God for My resurrection just one day a year — especially a day where My resurrection can get lost in colored eggs, bunnies, and new clothes! The devil is little disturbed by your talk about My death and resurrection as long as you keep it locked away in church buildings and confined to Easter Sundays.

On the other hand, the devil is defeated when you let My resurrection from the dead change you. Faith in My resurrection can change your heart, your hope, your lifestyle, and your courage as you face life's worst struggles! When you truly believe that the Father brought life to My lifeless body, you have something powerful! Your own life, regardless of circumstances, can be full of fresh hope when you truly believe in My resurrection.

When you believe in My resurrection, you can have confidence that the Father will do great things to overcome the brokenness of your world. When you believe that the Holy Spirit brought life to My lifeless body, then you can have faith that the Father can transform the worst things in your life by His grace and power. The power of the resurrection means that you fully believe that the Father "is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful" for you no matter how awful things appear to be right now. The Father "did not spare His own Son [Me], but handed" Me over to be crucified for you. However, My resurrection after My horrendous suffering means that you can know with certainty that the Father will also share His power, grace, and blessings with you now that I AM alive and have defeated death, sin, and hell!

My resurrection is not a theory to be debated; it is the reality of grace that changes everything! My resurrection is your assurance that God will use His power and grace to bless you by taking what is horrific and bringing something "good and beautiful"!

Verses to Live

Paul's words below are some of the most quoted and favorite verses of the Bible. You can believe them because you believe in Me and My triumph over death. I long for you to believe these words and live based on the conviction that they are as true for you as they were for Paul when he wrote them!

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. From the distant past, His eternal love reached into the future. You see, He knew those who would be His one day, and He chose them beforehand to be conformed to the image of His Son so that Jesus would be the firstborn of a new family of believers, all brothers and sisters. As for those He chose beforehand, He called them to a different destiny so that they would experience what it means to be made right with God and share in His glory.

So what should we say about all of this? If God is on our side, then tell me: whom should we fear? If He did not spare His own Son, but handed Him over on our account, then don't you think that He will graciously give us all things with Him?
(Romans 8:28-32)
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank You for Your promise to bring something "good and beautiful" out of the messes and struggles that I so often let consume me. I believe what Paul says here, dear Father, but help me so that my unbelief is replaced with full and confident belief. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.

HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.

© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 20 Apr 2017, 5:25 pm


"A Brief Look Back" — A Year with Jesus for 04/20/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God,

What drew you to follow Me? What called your heart to open up to Me? What convinced you that We — Father, Son, and Spirit — deeply love you and want you as part of Our family?

During the last week before My crucifixion, Philip and Andrew brought some Greeks (non-Jews) to Me. They had come to worship at the Passover festival and wanted to see Me. The coming of non-Jews seeking to meet Me and learn about Me was a huge confirmation in My heart that the time had come for Me to go to the cross. You see, My death on the cross was for all people. It was one of the Father's ways of drawing the hearts of all people to Him so they could know His love for them (John 12:32-33).

For Me, going to the cross was the ultimate way to glorify the Father. In going to the cross, the Father exercised His power to reach out to Jews and non-Jews — including you today, whatever your racial identity. My cross called to the hearts of all those seeking for something more to life than what they had found — those seeking to know the one true God.

As an instrument of execution, the cross was brutal, gross, morbid, and ghastly. While crucifixion was an excruciating death, the primary intention was to execute a person in as humiliating a way as possible. Crucifixion was intended to be a deterrent aimed at all those aligned with or sympathetic to the person crucified.

For Me, as a Jew, crucifixion also carried another significant consequence: the person hung on a cross — sometimes called a pole or tree — was considered cursed by God (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). The apostle Paul would pick up on this theme and speak great truth about the cross when he said the following:

The Anointed One [Christ], the Liberating King, has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. It was stated in the Scriptures, "Everyone who hangs on a tree is cursed by God."
(Galatians 3:13)
My resurrection reversed the whole meaning of My execution on the cross. All of the shame, humiliation, pain, mockery, and rejection that I endured during My trial and crucifixion was turned into blessing — forgiveness, redemption, ransom, and salvation. I endured the worst aspects of humanity and hell to redeem you from them. And My salvation isn't just for any one race or nation or people, but for all who find themselves drawn to My sacrifice, My love, and My grace.

My body was planted like a seed in the ground. It lay there dead to life. Then the power of grace renewed My life, and I rose a victor over sin, death, and hell. Now, on your side of the resurrection, millions upon millions have accepted My offer of salvation, forgiveness, and grace. What I appeared to have lost in humiliation is now given back many times over. Such is the power of the resurrection and of My love, the love of your Savior. On top of all the blessings that stream from the mercy and grace of the cross and the empty tomb, remember this: this resurrection power is available to you to help you as you live for Me (Ephesians 1:17-20). My resurrection from death's hold changes everything for you... even in the middle of the week, on a normal Thursday, that seems so far away from resurrection Sunday.

I was lifted up from the earth so that you could be lifted up to share with Me in resurrected glory (Colossians 3:1-3). So blessings to you this Thursday as you live for Me by resurrection power from the Holy Spirit!
Verses to Live

So here is a brief look back as I was headed to the cross. After you read this, I hope you will remember the short little parable of the grain of wheat included in the following verses. Because of the resurrection power at work in you, when you offer yourself to Me and the work of the kingdom, your sacrifices and efforts are multiplied by grace to touch more hearts. That is the power of My cross and the empty tomb... even on a seemingly unimportant Thursday — a day to plant seeds and share in the future harvest of grace!

Pharisees (to one another):
Our efforts to squelch Him [Jesus] have not worked, but now is not the time for action. Look, the world is following after Him.
Among the crowds traveling to Jerusalem were Greeks seeking to follow God and worship at the great feast. Some of them came to Philip with an important request.

Greek Pilgrims (to Philip):
Sir, we are hoping to meet Jesus.
Philip, a disciple from the Galilean village of Bethsaida, told Andrew that these Greeks wanted to see Jesus. Together Andrew and Philip approached Jesus to inform Him about the request.

Jesus (to Philip and Andrew):
The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth: unless a grain of wheat is planted in the ground and dies, it remains a solitary seed. But when it is planted, it produces in death a great harvest. The one who loves this life will lose it, and the one who despises it in this world will have life forevermore. Anyone who serves Me must follow My path; anyone who serves Me will want to be where I am, and he will be honored by the Father. My spirit is low and unsettled. How can I ask the Father to save Me from this hour? This hour is the purpose for which I have come into the world. But what I can say is this: "Father, glorify Your name!"
Suddenly a voice echoed from the heavens.

The Father:
I have glorified My name. And again I will bring glory in this hour that will resound throughout time.
The crowd of people surrounding Jesus was confused.

Some in the Crowd:
It sounded like thunder.
Others:
A heavenly messenger spoke to Him.
Jesus:
The voice you hear has not spoken for My benefit, but for yours. Now judgment comes upon this world, and everything will change. The tyrant of this world, Satan, will be thrown out. When I am lifted up from the earth, then all of humanity will be drawn to Me.
(John 12:19-32)
Response in Prayer

O Father, yes, I do believe that Jesus' resurrection from the dead means that everything is different — better, hopeful, and full of power. I am one of those seeds that spring from the planting of Jesus' body in the grave and the resurrection power of that Sunday morning. Help me live by the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit no matter what day it is or wherever I find myself. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 19 Apr 2017, 10:17 pm

The Crux of It All!" — A Year with Jesus for 04/19/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God,

After the apostle Paul spent years opposing My followers and My message, I revealed Myself to him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19), and he was changed forever. He took the good news message of My death, burial, and resurrection all over the Roman empire. Thousands upon thousands of people were transformed as a result of Paul's conversion and influence, and his influence continues through his writings in the Bible.

Paul could plumb the depths of theology. He could connect My coming to the promises of God in the Old Testament. This great teacher could also make things very simple and clear. Paul summarized "what was most important" about the gospel into three clear truths (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 NLT):

Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.
He was buried...
[H]e was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.
Paul also tied this saving faith to baptism, which he connected to these three truths (Romans 6:3-4 NLT):
[W]hen we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death.
[W]e died and were buried with Christ by baptism.
[J]ust as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
At the heart of your new life in Me is what I did on the cross, in the tomb, and in My resurrection from the dead. My victory opened the way for you to share in My saving grace and also eventually in My glory:
For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, Who raised Christ from the dead. ..

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God's right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.
(Colossians 2:12 NLT; Colossians 3:1-3 NLT)
What happened with My death, burial, and resurrection is the essential core of salvation.

Do you believe these truths?

Have you shared in these saving events with Me through your baptism?

I want your life to be fresh and new. I want your faith to be full of hope!
Therefore, if anyone is united with the Anointed One, that person is a new creation. The old life is gone — and see — a new life has begun.
(2 Corinthians 5:17)
Verses to Live

Notice all the ways Paul emphasizes that this saving faith is essential, what is most important, and what are the essential truths necessary for you to believe if you are going to be saved!

Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I preached to you when we first met. It's the essential message that you have taken to heart, the central story you now base your life on; and through this gospel, you are liberated — unless, of course, your faith has come to nothing. For I passed down to you the crux of it all which I had also received from others, that the Anointed One, the Liberating King, died for our sins and was buried and raised from the dead on the third day. All this happened to fulfill the Scriptures; it was the perfect climax to God's covenant story. Afterward He appeared alive to Cephas (you may know him as Simon Peter), then to the rest of the twelve. If that were not amazing enough, on one occasion, He appeared to more than 500 believers at one time. Many of those brothers and sisters are still around to tell the story, though some have fallen asleep in Jesus. Soon He appeared to James, His brother and the leader of the Jerusalem church, and then to all the rest of the emissaries He Himself commissioned. Last of all, He appeared to me...
(1 Corinthians 15:1-8)
Response in Prayer

Father, thank You for the future glory promised me as one who has trusted Jesus and shared with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection. In His name, I pray. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International

HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 18 Apr 2017, 10:34 pm

"Receive the Breath of Heaven" — A Year with Jesus for 04/18/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

Mary Magdalene, Peter, John, and a couple of disciples on the road to Emmaus weren't the only ones to meet Me on that first day of My resurrection. Whether I met them at the tomb, along the road, or over a meal, they saw that the inexplicable and seemingly impossible was true. There were more surprises as I showed Myself alive to those closest to Me. Many were startled and even terrified when I showed up among them as they were locked inside the upper room.

My proof of life was very simple. I asked the people to look at My scars. I also asked them to give Me a bite of their broiled fish. Fear gradually gave way to joy. This joy was so rich and full that they could still scarcely believe. It was simply too good to be true. Except it was true!

My resurrection was incredible for them. I wanted them — and I want you — to know that this good news of My life, crucifixion, and resurrection is not news to hoard or hide. This news is not for a few faithful followers tucked away and withdrawn from the doubters. This joy was not to be fearfully locked up and hidden from the everyday world of real people. I want the good news of My life, death, and resurrection to be shared with everyone. So I drew My disciples close to Me and spoke words to them that I also want you to hear:

I give you the gift of peace. In the same way the Father sent Me, I am now sending you.
The mission of testifying to My resurrection wouldn't be easy — not for My first disciples and not for you. So I drew My disciples close to Me and let My "breath" fall on them. I told them, "Welcome the Holy Spirit of the living God." (The same word in the languages I spoke was used to mean both "breath" and "spirit.") I reminded them about the Spirit Whom I had promised to send to them when I returned to the Father. In this moment of tender and joyful closeness, I wanted My disciples to know that I would be present with them and within them through the Holy Spirit, the Breath of heaven. My presence in them through the Holy Spirit would empower them to fulfill their mission of testifying to My resurrection.

Over the next few weeks, I will share with you some of those things I had originally spoken to My disciples on the night I was betrayed. I talked to them about the coming of the Spirit, their great Helper that I would send to be with them and to live within in them. Today, I want to remind you of two truths about the Holy Spirit, the Breath of heaven.

First, the Holy Spirit is not just about power and presence; the Spirit is also the holy and cleansing fire of heaven that I send to cleanse you (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Titus 3:3-7) and to give you the power to forgive others.

Second, the Holy Spirit will be in you as an endless blessing of grace. You cannot exhaust the supply of My presence, grace, and power within you. Remember My earlier promise about the Holy Spirit:
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.
(John 7:37-39)
Now that I had been glorified, they were about to experience the powerful work of the Spirit. As you read the verses below, please know that My presence and power are also available to you through the Holy Spirit today. So come close to Me. Lean in and let Me share the Breath of heaven with you so that you can answer My call:
In the same way the Father sent Me, I am now sending you.
Go and please share My grace by the power of the Spirit!
Verses to Live

Today we have sections of scripture from two of the Gospels. The first section, from Luke's Gospel, begins with the last few verses from yesterday. It continues to recount My joining the disciples in Jerusalem and interacting with them. The second section from John's Gospel also gives an account of My interaction with some disciples. Things are recorded in both sections to demonstrate that I was really alive, raised from the dead. I was really present with them in My resurrected body, interacting with them and telling them about the coming of the Holy Spirit to help them fulfill their mission to tell others about Me.

So they [the two disciples Jesus met on the road to Emmaus] get up immediately and rush back to Jerusalem — all seven miles — where they find the eleven gathered together — the eleven plus a number of others. [The followers had gathered together behind locked doors in fear that some of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem were still searching for them.] Before Cleopas and his companion can tell their story, the others have their own story to tell.

Other Disciples:
The Lord has risen indeed! It's true! He appeared to Simon!
Then the two men report their own experience — their conversation along the road, their moment of realization and recognition as He broke the bread. At that very instant, as they're still telling the story, Jesus is there, standing among them!

Jesus:
May you have peace!
They're startled and terrified; they think they're seeing a ghost.

Jesus:
Why are you upset? Why are your hearts churning with questions? Look — look at My hands and My feet! See that it's Me! Come on; touch Me; see for yourselves. A ghost doesn't have flesh and bones, as you can see that I have!
Then He shows them His hands and His feet.

Now their fear gives way to joy; but it seems too good to be true, and they're still unsure.

Jesus:
Do you have anything here to eat?
They hand Him a piece of broiled fish, and He takes it and eats it in front of them.
(Luke 24:33-43)

Jesus:
I give you the gift of peace. In the same way the Father sent Me, I am now sending you.
Now He drew close enough to each of them that they could feel His breath. He breathed on them:

Jesus:
Welcome the Holy Spirit of the living God. You now have the mantle of God's forgiveness. As you go, you are able to share the life-giving power to forgive sins, or to withhold forgiveness.
All of the eleven were present with the exception of Thomas. He heard the accounts of each brother's interaction with the Lord.

The Other Disciples:
We have seen the Lord!
Thomas:
Until I see His hands, feel the wounds of the nails, and put my hand to His side, I won't believe what you are saying.
(John 20:21-25)
Response in Prayer

O Father in heaven, please fill me with Your Spirit. Yes, dear Father, I believe Your Spirit is present in me. Therefore, I yield my will and open my heart to be led and transformed by the Holy Spirit so that I can share the gracious compassion of Jesus and show His holy character in my life. I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International

HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Mon 17 Apr 2017, 4:06 pm

"Beyond Bread" — A Year with Jesus for 04/17/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Disciple,

Today, I hope you realize that everything is different because of what we celebrated together yesterday. Resurrection Sunday changed everything for all of time! On Sunday afternoon after My resurrection, I caught up with a couple of disappointed and confused disciples walking back home to Emmaus. The disciples didn't recognize Me when they spoke these words that were poignant reminders of crushed hopes, yet they were still waiting to see what the rumors of My resurrection would actually mean:

We had been hoping that He [Jesus] was the One — you know, the One Who would liberate all Israel and bring God's promises. Anyway, on top of all this, just this morning — the third day after the execution — some women in our group really shocked us. They went to the tomb early this morning, but they didn't see His body anywhere. Then they came back and told us they did see something — a vision of heavenly messengers — and these messengers said that Jesus was alive. Some people in our group went to the tomb to check it out, and just as the women had said, it was empty. But they didn't see Jesus.
So I stepped into their disappointment, confusion, and weariness. I gave them the sacred blessing of My presence and My grace through the ordinariness of a simple meal, a prayer of blessing, and an explanation about My work on earth.

I broke bread with them — something that I had repeatedly done throughout My ministry. Luke was very good to show you how often I shared a meal with precious people. Some of these people were opposed to Me, some were seeking something more than they had found in their staid religious practices, some were passionate disciples who loved Me, and some were just hanging around with me. Regardless of the reason, each of them was precious to Me. For Me, beginning My passion with a meal and celebrating My resurrection with a meal were natural. My meal with two disappointed disciples was very simple and ordinary, except... they recognized Me in the breaking of the bread.

So as you continue this week, I want to remind you of one very simple, and I hope very exciting, promise that I made:
For when two or three gather together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.
(Matthew 18:20)
And this promise is fully true when you share a simple meal, call on My name, talk about Me, think about the Scriptures, and share in the love you have for each other.

In your busy and harried lives, you often try to segment life into sacred and secular, holy and ordinary. As your resurrected Lord, I hope you will receive My presence with you at meals as an incredible gift with the simple and gracious joy that I give to you. Anytime and anywhere that you gather with fellow believers and eat food, share in fellowship, and call on My name, you have carved out an especially sacred space in ordinary life. After all, isn't that part of what My life was about? Wasn't I the Holy One of heaven Who came to earth to be your human host Who makes all meals in My name into an especially sacred moment of shared grace!

So join Me on the road or at the family dinner table or the communion table. Each of these is an especially sacred place of grace when you gather in My name to remember, reflect, and renew our friendship. More than just giving thanks for your meals, invite Me into the moment and let's share together in an ordinary, yet especially sacred, space of grace!
Verses to Live

This story that Luke provides is very precious to Me. Enjoy your reading. Begin anticipating when we will sit at the table of grace together with your friends and family of faith. Blessings to you as you read!

Picture this:

That same day [resurrection Sunday], two other disciples (not of the eleven) are traveling the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus. As they walk along, they talk back and forth about all that has transpired during recent days. While they're talking, discussing, and conversing, Jesus catches up to them and begins walking with them, but for some reason they don't recognize Him.

Jesus:
You two seem deeply engrossed in conversation. What are you talking about as you walk along this road?
They stop walking and just stand there, looking sad. One of them — Cleopas is his name — speaks up.

Cleopas:
You must be the only visitor in Jerusalem Who hasn't heard about what's been going on over the last few days.
Jesus:
What are you talking about?
Two Disciples:
It's all about the man named Jesus of Nazareth. He was a mighty prophet Who did amazing miracles and preached powerful messages in the sight of God and everyone around. Our chief priests and authorities handed Him over to be executed — crucified, in fact.

We had been hoping that He was the One — you know, the One Who would liberate all Israel and bring God's promises. Anyway, on top of all this, just this morning — the third day after the execution — some women in our group really shocked us. They went to the tomb early this morning, but they didn't see His body anywhere. Then they came back and told us they did see something — a vision of heavenly messengers — and these messengers said that Jesus was alive. Some people in our group went to the tomb to check it out, and just as the women had said, it was empty. But they didn't see Jesus.
Jesus:
Come on, men! Why are you being so foolish? Why are your hearts so sluggish when it comes to believing what the prophets have been saying all along? Didn't it have to be this way? Didn't the Anointed One have to experience these sufferings in order to come into His glory?
Then He begins with Moses and continues, prophet by prophet, explaining the meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures, showing how they were talking about the very things that had happened to Jesus.

About this time, they are nearing their destination. Jesus keeps walking ahead as if He has no plans to stop there, but they convince Him to join them.

Two Disciples:
Please, be our guest. It's getting late, and soon it will be too dark to walk.
So He accompanies them to their home. When they sit down at the table for dinner, He takes the bread in His hands, He gives thanks for it, and then He breaks it and hands it to them. At that instant, two things happen simultaneously: their eyes are suddenly opened so they recognize Him, and He instantly vanishes — just disappears before their eyes.

Two Disciples (to each other):
Amazing! Weren't our hearts on fire within us while He was talking to us on the road? Didn't you feel it all coming clear as He explained the meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures?
So they get up immediately and rush back to Jerusalem — all seven miles — where they find the eleven gathered together — the eleven plus a number of others. Before Cleopas and his companion can tell their story, the others have their own story to tell.

Other Disciples:
The Lord has risen indeed! It's true! He appeared to Simon!
Then the two men report their own experience — their conversation along the road, their moment of realization and recognition as He broke the bread.
(Luke 24:13-35)
Response in Prayer

O holy Father, what sweet grace that Jesus has given us the promise of His presence in the most ordinary places of our lives. We always welcome Him to our table and receive Your grace in Jesus' name. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sun 16 Apr 2017, 11:10 pm

Welcome to Son Rise" — A Year with Jesus for 04/16/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower and Friend,

Let there be light. And light flashed into being.
(Genesis 1:3)
Yes, I was there the very first time light drove away the darkness at creation. In fact, I AM the living Word Who brought creation into existence (John 1:1-5; Colossians 1:16). You shouldn't be surprised that I was there for the great rising of the sun on that Sunday after my crucifixion. Just as I, Jesus the Christ and Son of God, was slain as the Passover Lamb for the sins of the world, I triumphed over the grave to end death's hold over you. I AM the Lord of creation and I am the Lord of Resurrection Sunday.

You may call it Easter, yet for heaven's angels, that resurrection morning was Son Rise. This event is the great day of victory for each of you who has placed your faith in Me. The power of sin and death was defeated. Broken hearts with shattered dreams were suddenly jubilant. With Son Rise, they were joyously stitched together with unconquerable hope realizing that I AM forever victorious over the power of sin, hell, and the grave.

I know you will have hard days, dark days, that are too long and feel hopeless. So as you read the verses below, I want you to notice that Mary Magdalene twice calls Me her Lord even though she thinks that death still holds Me. So, on your days that are too long and feel hopeless, I want you to hang onto faith like Mary did. Call out to Me as your Lord. Trust Me as your Lord. Hang on to Me as Lord even when there appears to be no reason to keep holding onto faith in Me. Sooner or later, like for Mary, there will be Son Rise! That is the promise of Resurrection Sunday. That is the assurance that Mary Magdalene's example of faith can give you.

Rejoice today, but not just today. Every sunrise is a reminder that death cannot hold you when you are in My life-giving grip. Every cemetery sorrow is but a temporary parting for those touched by My grace. Remember this: the grave cannot hold those who have put their faith in Me as Lord. With Me, there is always the promise of Son Rise!
Verses to Live

Death is the horror that hell has used to enslave humanity. When you see the broken heart of My mother, Mary, as she watches Me die, please know I came to bring hope to such pain. When you see Peter devastated by his betrayal as I faced death, please know I came to remove such shame. When you see Mary Magdalene touched first by My powerful grace when I cast out the demons oppressing her and then confused and broken by My death, please know that I am Lord of life and of the assurance that hope triumphs over death. When you see the sunrise, remember Me and remember Son Rise. I bring light to darkness, hope to despair, healing to brokenness, and, most of all, life to death. Hear these words and remember, Son Rise!

Near the place He [Jesus] was crucified, there was a garden with a newly prepared tomb. Because it was the day of preparation, they [Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus] arranged to lay Jesus in this tomb so they could rest on the Sabbath.

Before the sun had risen on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene made a trip to the tomb where His body was laid to rest. In the darkness, she discovered the covering had been rolled away. She darted out of the garden to find Simon Peter and the dearly loved disciple to deliver this startling news.

Mary Magdalene:
They have taken the body of our Lord, and we cannot find Him!
Together, they all departed for the tomb to see for themselves. They began to run, and Peter could not keep up. The beloved disciple arrived first but did not go in. There was no corpse in the tomb, only the linens and cloths He was wrapped in. When Simon Peter finally arrived, he went into the tomb and observed the same: the cloth that covered His face appeared to have been folded carefully and placed, not with the linen cloths, but to the side. After Peter pointed this out, the other disciple (who had arrived long before Peter) also entered the tomb; and based on what he saw, faith began to well up inside him! Before this moment, none of them understood the Scriptures and why He must be raised from the dead. Then they all went to their homes.

Mary, however, stood outside the tomb sobbing, crying, and kneeling at its entrance. As she cried, two heavenly messengers appeared before her sitting where Jesus' head and feet had been laid.

Heavenly Messengers:
Dear woman, why are you weeping?
Mary Magdalene:
They have taken away my Lord, and I cannot find Him.
After uttering these words, she turned around to see Jesus standing before her, but she did not recognize Him.

Jesus:
Dear woman, why are you sobbing? Who is it you are looking for?
She still had no idea Who it was before her. Thinking He was the gardener, she muttered:

Mary Magdalene:
Sir, if you are the one who carried Him away, then tell me where He is and I will retrieve Him.
Jesus:
Mary!
Mary Magdalene (turning to Jesus and speaking in Hebrew):
Rabboni, my Teacher!
Jesus:
Mary, you cannot hold Me. I must rise above this world to be with My Father, Who is also your Father; My God, Who is also your God. Go tell this to all My brothers.
Mary Magdalene obeyed and went directly to His disciples.

Mary Magdalene (announcing to the disciples):
I have seen the Lord...
(John 19:41-42; John 20:1-18)
Response in Prayer

Almighty God — so high and exalted, yet so near — I praise You and thank You for Your power, love, and grace. Thank You for Jesus, born of woman, clothed in mortality, moved by love to be crucified for my sins, entombed in death to share my mortality, and raised from death as my conquering Lord. I thank You that Jesus' future is now my future, His conquest over death is now my assured victory, and His glory is now my destination. Thank You for Son Rise! Thank You, in Jesus' name. Hallelujah! Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.

© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 15 Apr 2017, 5:23 pm

"'Better Off Just Leaving Him Alive'" — A Year with Jesus for 04/15/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Seeker,

On the day after My death and while My body was still in the grave, Pilate received a request from the chief priests and the Pharisees:

So please order someone to secure the tomb for at least three days. Otherwise His disciples might sneak in and steal his body away, and then claim that He has been raised from the dead.
If the chief priests and Pharisees had just known the realities of the situation, they would have realized how unnecessary their request was. My disciples were scared they would be the next to die. They hid from the authorities behind locked doors (John 20:19). They weren't going to steal My body. They were hoping to stay alive through Passover. If they survived, then they could begin trying to figure out what to do next!

The concern about their stealing My body was ludicrous. Even more absurd was the posting of a guard at the tomb of someone who is dead. If the deceased can make himself alive again, you have a lot bigger problem than a few guards at the entrance of a tomb could ever handle!

As My body lay still in the grave, those who crucified Me were about to provide part of the validation that their greatest fears would be realized. What were those fears? Matthew's words capture them powerfully. If My disciples believed that I was raised from the dead, then these religious leaders "would have been better off just leaving Him [Me] alive." A wonder-working Messiah was hard enough to oppose. How do you stop people who truly believe their Messiah had been unmercifully and brutally executed but then was raised from the dead by the power of God? As you now know nearly two thousand years later, you can't stop such "resurrection-believing" people!

All the schemes, plots, and machinations exerted to kill Me would very shortly prove to be futile. In fact, all those efforts would only strengthen the foundation of My disciples' faith once they were convinced that I had been raised! After they had seen Me alive following My resurrection, their faith would push them out of their fear into a bold passion. Once they ate with Me, their resurrected Lord, their conviction that I lived would stir them to turn the world upside down with My message of grace. These religious leaders and their soldiers could no longer threaten them into silence once they had touched My wounds — wounds on My head, hands, feet, and side — where I had been pierced by the thorns, the nails, and a spear. These religious leaders would have their worst fears realized. Once My disciples believed in My resurrection and the empty tomb, they proved to be unstoppable!

So when all seemed lost for My little band of followers, those who killed Me were still afraid of Me. You are reading this because you know what happens next: these religious leaders have their worst fears realized. Death could not stop Me or My influence or My triumph over the grave. All their politics, false religion, lying, deception, and even guards couldn't keep My body locked in that tomb and held by the power of death. Soon, after a brief respite while My body would lie motionless and lifeless in the grave, the religious leaders would again have to deal with Me, the Lord of heaven and earth and conqueror of death.
Verses to Live

The Bible has many little glimpses of holy irony as humans try to oppose the plan and power of the LORD — Father, Son, and Spirit. The second Psalm is a powerful testimony about the futility of human scheming in opposition to the will of the Father (Psalm 2:1-12). I especially love the first verse: "Why are the people making plans to pursue their own vacant and empty greatness?" The frantic scheming by those who put Me to death proved futile as My resurrection demonstrated. So as you read the words below, recall how ridiculous this scheming proved to be.

The next day, which is the day after the Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went together to Pilate. They reminded him that when Jesus was alive He had claimed that He would be raised from the dead after three days.

Chief Priests and Pharisees:
So please order someone to secure the tomb for at least three days. Otherwise His disciples might sneak in and steal His body away, and then claim that He has been raised from the dead. If that happens, then we would have been better off just leaving Him alive.
Pilate:
You have a guard. Go and secure the grave.
So they went to the tomb, sealed the stone in its mouth, and left the guard to keep watch.
(Matthew 27:62-66)
Response in Prayer

O Father, when death closes in on those whom I love and who are Jesus' disciples, please help Me believe! Help Me believe, O LORD, that the power that was present to bring life to Jesus' dead body will come with grace and power to raise those I love. The distance between burial and resurrection seems like a long wait from our perspective on earth. So during the long wait till reunion with those of us who live on this side of the grave, I ask for faith to believe that the resurrection is coming. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Fri 14 Apr 2017, 6:48 pm

'Father, Forgive Them'" — A Year with Jesus for 04/14/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God,

Few things are more difficult for My beloved followers to read than the account of My crucifixion. In the verses below, this is what you will find:

I was crucified as a criminal, among criminals.
As I died, the soldiers at the foot of My naked and battered body gambled to see who could take home my clothes.
The religious authorities who were supposed to support My faith and give Me comfort, mocked Me.
Calloused soldiers joined in mocking Me and teasing Me with sour wine for My parched throat and My dehydrated body.
Soldiers mocked My identity as King of the Jews and then challenged Me to free myself.
The soldiers nailed an inscription at the top of My cross. The inscription said "This is the King of the Jews!" and was intended as derision and sarcasm. It was written in the three primary languages of the region.
One dying criminal joined in the derision, mocking, and ridicule.
Darkness descended and "the curtain of the temple was torn in two."
With all that was going on that was awful and sub-human, notice the touches of grace that redeem this story into a message of hope, mercy, love, forgiveness, and redemption:
My prayer of forgiveness for those murdering Me: "Father, forgive them."
My promise to the believing criminal crucified with Me: "I promise you that this very day you will be with Me in paradise."
The Centurion's words of faith after seeing everything that happened at the cross: "No doubt, this man must have been innocent."
Joseph of Arimathea, "a good and fair man," who had objected to the plans and actions of the other religious leaders, asked Pilate for My body and gave Me a proper burial.
The women, the only group th! at stayed with Me through the whole ordeal of My passion, made preparations to complete My proper burial after the Sabbath had passed.
Some of you who read this are going through your own time of testing. You find yourself in what feels like deepest darkness. You could be facing this darkness because of your own mistakes. You could be facing this darkness because of what others have done to you. You could even be facing this darkness because you have to say goodbye to someone incredibly precious to you, and you wonder why your miracle never came.

The Father put My cross in the middle of such deep darkness so that you could know with certainty this important truth: there is not a place I won't go to reach you and share the Father's love with you. The cross was a Roman tool of subjugation — to put fear into the hearts of people. It was designed to be a tool of public humiliation and, at this time, was reserved for only the worst of crimes and the lowest of criminals. Crucifixion was dehumanizing. Use of crucifixion was awful. My cross was awful — awful for Me and awful for the Father. My cross was Satan's apparent moment of triumph and hell's greatest moment of delight.

Some of you feel that is where you live right now — at that intersection of Awful-to-God and Hell's-Delight. You see no end, no answer, no hope, and no one to save you. That's one reason My crucifixion is so important. It is a reminder that I chose to share that horrible address — the intersection of Awful-to-God and Hell's-Delight — with you to redeem you out of that place with My grace. The cross reminds you that I know your sense of pain, isolation, rejection, and misery. I endured these things so that you could know that you are not alone when you find yourself in such awful and hellish circumstances.

At the same time, the touches of grace in this awful scene provide you with a reminder that in the worst of places, where you meet inhumanity and hell's fury, God's grace steps in and redeems the worst of messes even in the deepest darkness. Forgiveness is given. Grace is extended. Faith is declared. Kindness is shown. Faithfulness is demonstrated. Such is the power of My cross — the cross I bore so you could know that there is never a place My love won't go to find you and bring you safely back to the Father.
Verses to Live

The verses below show some of the horrors of My crucifixion but also reveal touches of grace that remind you why I endured this awful and humiliating death. Please don't forget that what happened at the cross was more than just a bunch of angry people killing the Messiah from heaven. The events recounted here are the story of the greatest grace ever shown. I gave Myself as a sacrificial offering for the sin of the world — for your sin — so that you can be forgiven and reconciled back to the Father!

Jesus wasn't the only one being crucified that day. There were two others, criminals, who were also being led to their execution. When they came to the place known as "The Skull," they crucified Jesus there, in the company of criminals, one to the right of Jesus and the other to His left.

Jesus:
Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing.
Meanwhile, they were drawing lots to see who would win Jesus' clothing. The crowd of people stood, watching.

Authorities (mocking Jesus):
So He was supposed to rescue others, was He? He was supposed to be God's Anointed, the Liberating King? Let's see Him start by liberating Himself!
The soldiers joined in the mockery. First, they pretended to offer Him a soothing drink — but it was sour wine.

Soldiers:
Hey, if You're the King of the Jews, why don't You free Yourself!
Even the inscription they placed over Him was intended to mock Him — "This is the King of the Jews!" This was written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.

One of the criminals joined in the cruel talk.

Cynical Criminal:
You're supposed to be the Anointed One, right? Well — do it! Rescue Yourself and us!
But the other criminal told him to be quiet.

Believing Criminal:
Don't you have any fear of God at all? You're getting the same death sentence He is! We're getting what we deserve since we've committed crimes, but this man hasn't done anything wrong at all! (turning to Jesus) Jesus, when You come into Your kingdom, please remember me.
Jesus:
I promise you that this very day you will be with Me in paradise.
At this point, it was about noon, and a darkness fell over the whole region. The darkness persisted until about three in the afternoon, and at some point during this darkness, the curtain in the temple was torn in two.

Jesus (shouting out loudly):
Father, I entrust My spirit into Your hands!
And with those words, He exhaled — and breathed no more.

The Centurion — one of the soldiers who performed the execution — saw all this, and he praised God.

Centurion:
No doubt, this man must have been innocent.
The crowds of common people who had gathered and watched the whole ordeal through to its conclusion left for their homes, pounding on their own chests in profound grief. And all who knew Jesus personally, including the group of women who had been with Him from the beginning in Galilee, stood at a distance, watching all of these things unfold.

Meanwhile a man named Joseph had been at work. He was a member of the council, a good and fair man, from a Judean town called Arimathea. He had objected to the plans and actions of the council; he was seeking the kingdom of God. He had gone to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. He removed the body from the cross and wrapped it in a shroud made of fine linen. He then laid the body in a cavelike tomb cut from solid rock, a tomb that never had been used before. It was Preparation Day — the day before the holy Sabbath — and it was about to begin at sundown. The women who had accompanied Jesus from the beginning in Galilee now came, took note of where the tomb was and how His body had been prepared, then left to prepare spices and ointments for His proper burial. They ceased their work on the Sabbath so they could rest as the Hebrew Scriptures required.
(Luke 23:32-56)
Response in Prayer

O Father, with the old hymn I proclaim that "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all."[NOTE] In Jesus' name and because of His sacrifice, I thank You for Your amazing grace. Amen.



[NOTE] These words come from the song "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" by Isaac Watts and Norman J. Clayton.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International

HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 13 Apr 2017, 5:58 pm

"Carrying My Cross" — A Year with Jesus for 04/13/2017
Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

The verses below give you some of the details about the horrendous way I was treated during My journey to Golgotha. You see hatred in action. You see a mob that had been manipulated into a frenzy. You see the people in that mob lose their ability to think clearly and act fairly. You also see people in abject sorrow, "shrieking and wailing in grief." In addition, pay attention to My ominous words of warning at the end of these events.

I also want you to notice one small touch of grace in the horrific circumstances that I faced. This touch of grace shows up in the midst of an awful, violent, and out-of-control set of brutalities. These brutalities were fueled by the hate and fear of religious leaders determined to kill Me.

What is that touch of grace?

Simon of Cyrene is chosen to help Me carry My cross to Golgotha. This touch of grace came after a night of no sleep, unceasing ridicule, bitter mockery, being slapped, being spit upon, being beaten, being scourged, being paraded before leaders, being rejected by the mob, and being sentenced to death by Pilate. I had to carry My cross to the place of My execution, but I was exhausted and physically weak. So I was given someone to help Me by carrying My cross. I had been forsaken by My closest followers. Judas betrayed Me. Peter denied Me. The rest abandoned Me. In the end, I was given someone to help Me carry My cross the last part of the way to Golgotha.

Out of this well of deep misery inflicted upon Me, I was given the grace of someone to help Me carry My burden.

Over the years, My disciples in different parts of the world have seen Simon as a reminder of how important it is to lift the burden of those who are dying. Others have seen Simon as a great image of someone who picks up his cross and helps Me in My mission. Who is someone that needs you to help carry his or her burdens?

Verses to Live

You are about to read about the ridicule I faced and the scorn I bore on the way to the cross. This disrespect was part of the price I paid to communicate the Father's love to you. I hope you will be moved to choose to honor Me and Simon, who helped Me by carrying My cross. I want you to commit to carrying My cross. You can do this by joining Me in My mission to reach the hearts of unbelievers. One possible way to do that is to help ease the burden of someone who is dying. In the horror of what happens in life, may you be Simon to someone who needs help with life's burdens!

So the whole council [the Sanhedrin] got up and took Jesus to Pilate. They brought accusations against Him.

Sanhedrin:
We have observed this man leading our nation astray. He even forbade us to pay our taxes to Caesar. He claims to be the Anointed One and a King Himself.
Pilate:
Are You the King of the Jews?
Jesus:
It's as you say.
Pilate (to the chief priest and crowd):
I find this man guilty of no crime.
Sanhedrin (growing more intense):
He has been stirring up discontent among the people all over Judea. He started up in Galilee, and now He's brought His brand of trouble all the way to Jerusalem!
Pilate:
Just a minute. Is this man a Galilean?
When Pilate learned that Jesus was indeed Galilean — which meant He was officially under Herod's jurisdiction — Pilate sent Him over to Herod, who was currently in Jerusalem. Herod was fascinated to meet Jesus for he had heard about Him for a long time. He was hoping he might be treated to a miracle or two. He interrogated Jesus for quite a while, but Jesus remained silent, refusing to answer his questions. Meanwhile, the chief priests and religious scholars had plenty to say — angrily hurling accusations at Jesus.

Eventually, Herod and his soldiers began to insult Jesus, mocking and degrading Him. They put expensive clothing on Him and sent Him back to Pilate. This ended a long-standing rift between Herod and Pilate; they became friends from that day forward.

Pilate assembled the chief priests and other Jewish authorities.

Pilate:
You presented this man to me as a rabble-rouser, but I examined Him in your presence and found Him not guilty of the charges you have leveled against Him. Herod also examined Him and released Him to my custody. So He hasn't done anything deserving the death penalty. I'll see to it that He is properly whipped and then let Him go.
It was the custom for Pilate to set one prisoner free during the holiday festivities.

Crowd (all shouting at once):
Away with this man! Free Barabbas instead!
Barabbas had been imprisoned after being convicted of an insurrection he had led in Jerusalem. He had also committed murder. Pilate argued with them, wishing he could release Jesus, but they wouldn't be silenced.

Crowd (shouting):
Crucify Him! Crucify Him!
Pilate (countering a third time):
Why? What has He done that is so evil? I have found in Him no offense worthy of capital punishment. As I said, I will punish Him and then release Him.
But they would not relent. They shouted louder and louder that He should be crucified, and eventually Pilate capitulated. So he pronounced the punishment they demanded.

He released the rebel and murderer Barabbas — the insurrectionist they had pleaded for in His place — and he handed Jesus over to them to do with as they desired.

On the way to the place of crucifixion, they pulled a man from the crowd — his name was Simon of Cyrene, a person from the countryside who happened to be entering the city at that moment. They put Jesus' cross on Simon's shoulders, and he followed behind Jesus. Along with Him was a huge crowd of common people, including many women shrieking and wailing in grief.

Jesus (to the people in the crowd):
Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me. Weep instead for yourselves and weep for your children. Days are coming when people will say, "Blessed are the infertile; blessed are the wombs that never bore a child; blessed are the breasts that never nursed an infant." People will beg the mountains, "Surround us!" They'll plead with the hills, "Cover us!" For if they treat Me like this when I'm like green unseasoned wood, what will they do to a nation that's ready to burn like seasoned firewood.
(Luke 23:1-31)
Response in Prayer

O Father, please use me to be a Simon to someone in need. In Jesus' name and in memory of Jesus' sacrifice, I pray to be used for Jesus' glory and to share Jesus' grace with those who do not yet know Him. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.

HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 12 Apr 2017, 9:53 pm

"I AM!" — A Year with Jesus for 04/12/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

As we approach My crucifixion, I want you to think about the events of that ugly night that preceded My trip to Golgotha and My death on the cross. On this very hurtful night, everyone close to Me abandoned Me except for a handful of precious women. These women had supported Me throughout My ministry. They were faithful to Me through the awful events of My passion. There were also the first to know the truth about My resurrection.

As you read today's verses, each paragraph of Luke's account brings another disappointment.

The Father did not spare Me the cup of anguish and death.

My sweat fell to the ground like large drops of blood.

After a brief respite and the encouragement of an angel, I found My beloved disciples asleep. They didn't understand what was happening, yet they were weighed down by sorrow and could not stay awake.

The noisy crowd that came to arrest Me was led by Judas. Yes, one of My own apostles came to betray Me into the hands of those who hated Me. Judas came to My place of prayer to betray Me with a kiss.

Peter used his sword in a misguided attempt to fight for Me. He cut off the right ear of the high priest's slave. Violence! How could any of My disciples have thought I would resort to violence? My only act of power that night was to heal the slave's wound. I told Peter to put away his sword. On the night My life was on the line, I repeatedly refused to use power to protect Myself!

I was then manhandled and taken to the home of the high priest. Peter was there, but it was pure agony to know what he did... to have seen him across the courtyard in the glow of the fire denying that he ever knew Me... to have heard the rooster crow... to have had our eyes meet... and to have seen the look of absolute and total shame as he fled the courtyard with bitter tears streaming down his face. Peter's actions broke My heart for him.

Then those holding Me mocked Me and beat Me. They blindfolded Me and mocked Me some more... insulted Me... degraded Me any way they could... then took Me in the darkness to be illegally interrogated.

Then in one bright and shining moment in the midst of hell's absolute darkness on this night of betrayal, denial, and shame, I was asked:

"Are You..." And I said, "I AM!"

Yes, I know you might miss this clear declaration of My identity because of your translations, but that is what I literally said: "I AM!"

"I AM" the One Who revealed Himself to Moses (Exodus 3:13-14) and instructed him to lead Israel so I could redeem My people from Egypt. The "I AM" of the Hebrew Bible is Me. "I AM" went to the cross for you, to redeem you, and to show you that you are truly My beloved.

Verses to Live

Beloved, on this night you see Me withhold My power to protect Myself. I accept the Father's plan. I submit Myself to the horrors of religion gone bad and religious leaders grown corrupt. So remember this one truth: "I AM" did this for you.

I AM the One Who is and Who was and Who is to come.

"I AM" gave Himself for you. "I AM" demonstrated that you are truly one of My beloved. I AM Jesus. I AM your Lord and Savior. I AM!

Once again He [Jesus] left the city as He had been doing during recent days, returning to Mount Olivet along with His disciples. And He came to a certain place.

Jesus:
Pray for yourselves, that you will not sink into temptation.
He distanced Himself from them about a stone's throw and knelt there, praying.

Jesus:
Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me. Yet not My will, but Your will, be done.
Then a messenger from heaven appeared to strengthen Him. And in His anguish, He prayed even more intensely, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. When He rose from prayer and returned to the disciples, He found them asleep, weighed down with sorrow. He roused them.

Jesus:
Why are you sleeping? Wake up and pray that you will not sink into temptation.
Even as He said these words, the sound of a crowd could be heard in the distance, and as the crowd came into view, it was clear that Judas was leading them. He came close to Jesus and gave Jesus the traditional greeting of a kiss.

Jesus:
Ah, Judas, is this how you betray the Son of Man — with a kiss?
Disciples (realizing what was going on):
Lord, is this why You told us to bring the swords? Should we attack?
Before Jesus could answer, one of them had swung his sword at the high priest's slave, cutting off his right ear.

Jesus:
Stop! No more of this!
Then He reached out to touch — and heal — the man's ear. Jesus turned to the chief priests, the captains of the temple, and the elders and spoke.

Jesus:
Do you think I'm some sort of violent criminal? Is that why you came with swords and clubs? I haven't been hard to find — each day I've been in the temple in broad daylight, and you never tried to seize Me there. But this is your time — night — and this is your power — the power of darkness.
They grabbed Him at this point and took Him away to the high priest's home. Peter followed — at a distance. He watched from the shadows as those who had seized Jesus made a fire in the center of the courtyard and sat down around it. Then Peter slipped in quietly and sat with them. But a young servant girl saw his face in the firelight. She stared for a while and then spoke.

Servant Girl:
This fellow here was with Jesus. I recognize him.
Peter (denying it):
Woman, I don't even know the man.
A little later, a man also recognized him.

Man:
I recognize you. You're one of Jesus' followers.
Peter:
Man, you're wrong. I'm not.
An hour or so passed, and then another person pointed to Peter.

Another Person:
This fellow is obviously Galilean. He must be a member of Jesus' group.
Peter:
Look, I have no idea what you're talking about.
And he hadn't even finished the sentence when a nearby rooster crowed. The Lord turned toward Peter, and their eyes met. Peter remembered Jesus' words about his triple denial before the rooster would crow, so he left the courtyard and wept bitter tears.

At this point, the men who were holding Jesus began to mock Him and beat Him. They put a blindfold on Him.

Men Holding Jesus:
Hey, Prophet! Use Your prophetic powers to tell us who just whacked You!
They kept on with this sort of insulting, degrading treatment for quite some time. When dawn had given way to full day, the Sanhedrin council assembled, consisting of religious leaders of the Sadducean party, along with the chief priests and religious scholars. They took Him to their headquarters for interrogation.

Sanhedrin:
If you are the Anointed One Whom God promised us, tell us plainly.
Jesus:
If I give you an answer, you won't believe it. And if I ask you a question, you won't answer it. But this I will say to you: from now on, the Son of Man will take His seat at the right hand of the power of God.
Sanhedrin:
So You are the Son of God, then?
Jesus:
It's as you say.
Sanhedrin:
What more evidence do we need? We've heard it with our own ears from His own lips.
(Luke 22:39-71)
Response in Prayer

Holy God, thank You for coming to our world as Jesus and demonstrating Your love for me in such unmistakable ways through Jesus' voluntary sacrifice on the cross. As Your beloved child, I thank You... With all I am, I thank You for being the great "I AM" of glory and grace Who gave Himself for me in Jesus on the cross. It is through the powerful name of Jesus that I pray. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.

HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 11 Apr 2017, 9:49 pm

Love before Nightfall" — A Year with Jesus for 04/11/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

Satan tries to mess up every act of genuine love. What you read in the verses below is one of My most precious moments with My closest disciples. They still did not understand what was about to happen to Me. They were clueless about what the next few days would mean to them some day and what price I would soon pay. They were teetering on the brink of striving for religious position and privilege just like the folks who were trying to kill Me — the very same folks whom I rebuked in yesterday's verses.

I had often spoken to My disciples about the greatest in My kingdom being servants (Mark 10:43). Rather than give a theological discourse on the nature of being a servant, I knew they needed a demonstration of serving that showed them My love as I faced My own death. I think you will find this time with My disciples to be quite precious. My actions, centered in sacrificial love, showed that in My kingdom, the greatest is a servant. Greatness is not found in the person of position and power at the head of the table and receiving all the attention while being waited upon hand and foot. Greatness is found in the one who is willing to do things like wash feet and who cares genuinely for others while facing difficult challenges himself or herself.

Of course, Peter, as he so often did, got things a little confused. The others were mystified by what I was doing. Why would I, their Lord and Teacher, stoop down, pick up the towel, and wash their feet? Washing feet was the job of a house slave.

These disciples I loved so dearly needed to know that serving is the nature of genuine leadership. As the minutes I was going to have with them were speeding quickly into the past, I wanted to leave them a memory that would stick in their hearts and transform their attitudes.

Judas, in the moment of My demonstration of love, was biding time until he could turn Me over to those who wanted to kill Me. He was close to Me. He shared this meal with Me. We shared the same cup. We shared the same bread. He had spent three years with Me. No one else suspected what was in his heart — his heart that he had given to Satan to control fully.

On your worst days, you may be shown disloyalty even in the face of your love, just as I was. You give all that you have to someone, then he or she lets you down like all those at the table with Me in the verses below let me down. Some overstate their commitment to you and then can't live up to their promises. Some sell you out for what they think is a better offer. Others simply abandon you in your hour of need.

No matter what people might do to you — even people whom you have loved with all that you have and all that you are, you know you can always come to Me and talk to Me about how you feel. I know the hurt. I know the gut-wrenching ache of abandonment. I know the disappointment of hours of love invested in someone who doesn't fully appreciate your love for him or her. I know the loneliness of facing the ridicule of others while having no friend there for you. I know because this is what I experienced.

When Judas left our table, John's words hauntingly state the truth with brutal finality: "So Judas took his piece of bread and departed into the night." I hope you never know the feeling of such heartbreaking nightfall. If you do, remember this: I know what it feels like, and I will help you through it if you will call out to Me!

Verses to Live

Love is demonstrated by what it does. So what do the following events say about Me? What do they say about those around Me? What does this love I demonstrated call you to do?

Before the Passover festival began, Jesus was keenly aware that His hour had come to depart from this world and to return to the Father. From beginning to end, Jesus' days were marked by His love for His people. Before Jesus and His disciples gathered for dinner, the adversary filled Judas Iscariot's heart with plans of deceit and betrayal. Jesus, knowing that He had come from God and was going away to God, stood up from dinner and removed His outer garments. He then wrapped Himself in a towel, poured water in a basin, and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with His towel.

Simon Peter (as Jesus approaches):
Lord, are You going to wash my feet?
Jesus:
Peter, you don't realize what I am doing, but you will understand later.
Peter:
You will not wash my feet, now or ever!
Jesus:
If I don't wash you, you will have nothing to do with Me.
Peter:
Then wash me but don't stop with my feet. Cleanse my hands and head as well.
Jesus:
Listen, anyone who has bathed is clean all over except for the feet. But I tell you this, not all of you are clean.
He knew the one with plans of betraying Him, which is why He said, "not all of you are clean." After washing their feet and picking up His garments, He reclined at the table again.

Jesus:
Do you understand what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and truly, that is Who I am. So if your Lord and Teacher washes your feet, then you should wash one another's feet. I am your example; keep doing what I do. I tell you the truth: a servant is not greater than the master. Those who are sent are not greater than the one who sends them. If you know these things, and if you put them into practice, you will find happiness. I am not speaking about all of you. I know whom I have chosen, but let the Hebrew Scripture be fulfilled that says, "The very same man who eats My bread with Me will stab Me in the back." Assuredly, I tell you these truths before they happen so that when it all transpires, you will believe that I am. I tell you the truth: anyone who accepts the ones I send accepts Me. In turn, the ones who accept Me also accept the One Who sent Me.
Jesus was becoming visibly distressed.

Jesus:
I tell you the truth: one of you will betray Me.
The disciples began to stare at one another, wondering who was the unfaithful disciple. One disciple in particular, who was loved by Jesus, reclined next to Him at the table. Peter motioned to the disciple at Jesus' side.

Peter (to the beloved disciple):
Find out who the betrayer is.
Beloved Disciple (leaning in to Jesus):
Lord, who is it?
Jesus:
I will dip a piece of bread in My cup and give it to the one who will betray Me.
He dipped one piece in the cup and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. After this occurred, Satan entered into Judas.

Jesus (to Judas):
Make haste, and do what you are going to do.
No one understood Jesus' instructions to Judas. Because Judas carried the money, some thought he was being instructed to buy the necessary items for the feast or give some money to the poor. So Judas took his piece of bread and departed into the night.
(John 13:1-30)
Response in Prayer

O Father, help me to love others as Jesus loves them and not give up on them when they disappoint me and let me down. Thank You, Jesus, for walking in the world I live in and facing the pain of disappointment and rejection that I have felt. I know You faced much worse things and triumphed over them while redeeming nearly all of those who let You down. Thank You! Thank You, Jesus, for Your great love. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.

HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Mon 10 Apr 2017, 9:15 pm

'The Last Straw'" — A Year with Jesus for 04/10/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

After My triumphal entry, Jerusalem was a tangle of tension and evil plotting. Look at a few excerpts from Luke's descriptions of the situation as given in the verses below:

The chief priests, the religious scholars, and the leading men of the city wanted to kill Him [Jesus], but because He was so popular among the people — who hung upon each word He spoke — they were unable to do anything.
...
"Tell us by what authority You march into the temple and disrupt our worship. Who gave you this authority?"
...
That [Jesus' parable of the vineyard] was the last straw for the religious scholars and the chief priests; they were ready to attack Him [Jesus] right then and there. But they couldn't for fear of public opinion, and they realized that Jesus, through this parable had exposed their violent intentions.

They would send spies, pretending to ask sincere questions, listening for something they could seize upon that would justify His arrest and condemnation under the governor's authority.
The whole conflict in Jerusalem centered around the truth of My story — or parable — in today's verses. Most of the religious leaders in Israel had decided they were entitled to special benefits for their "service" to the people. They felt entitled to their positions and their interpretations. They felt entitled to their respect among the people. They felt entitled to practice their religious leadership for their own advantage. And they were determined to keep their positions, their influence, and their control over the whole religious enterprise. This control was more important to them than honoring the Father. It was surely more important to them than lovingly leading the people they were entrusted to serve.

My conflict with these religious leaders is the same conflict that I have with any religious leader who forgets that position and spiritual influence are given by the grace of the Father. Spiritual leadership must be used to honor the Father and bless His people. Any favor with the Father vanishes in a heartbeat when leaders use their position to manipulate or oppose the truth, preserve their power, or abuse the people.

You live in a time when church leaders of various stripes and persuasions have embarrassed Me and the movement I gave My life to set in motion. The Bible has multiple warnings about leaders and teachers being judged with greater strictness (Ezekiel 34:1-24; James 3:1; Matthew 23:1-39; Galatians 1:6-9). The abuse of spiritual leadership has been a problem in almost every age and was a big part of My conflict with the spiritual leaders in Jerusalem. My words of criticism of the spiritual leadership of Israel lay behind the religious leaders' rejecting and crucifying Me.

So when you find yourself disillusioned by the failures of leaders in your day — moral failure, failure to offer compassion, failure to speak the truth, failure because they were co-opted by the political winds of the age — remember two things:
I abhor the abuse and neglect perpetuated out of hypocrisy and misuse of religion for personal gain.
Those who have abused their privilege and position of spiritual leadership will have to answer on judgment day to the Father.
This, My beloved disciple, is how I characterized the Father's position on the subject of selfish, abusive, and hypocritical religious leaders:
He'll come and wipe those tenants out, and he'll give the vineyard to others.
Verses to Live

The following hard words were spoken, and hard actions were taken in the middle of a very difficult set of circumstances. The issues behind these hard words were a matter of utmost importance:

Why do people serve God?
Do they practice religion for themselves and for their own personal advantage?
Do they serve as religious leaders to bless those in need and to reflect the character and compassion of God or to line their pockets and puff up their egos?
He [Jesus] came back day after day to teach in the temple. The chief priests, the religious scholars, and the leading men of the city wanted to kill Him, but because He was so popular among the people — who hung upon each word He spoke — they were unable to do anything.

One day when He was teaching the people in the temple and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests, religious scholars, and elders came up and questioned Him.

Elders:
Tell us by what authority You march into the temple and disrupt our worship. Who gave You this authority?
Jesus:
Let Me ask you a question first. Tell Me this: was the ritual cleansing of baptism John did from God, or was it merely a human thing?
Chief Priests, Religious Scholars, and Elders (conferring together):
If we say it was from God, then He'll ask us why we didn't believe John. If we say it was merely human, all the people will stone us because they are convinced that John was a true prophet.
So they said they didn't know where John's ritual washing came from.

Jesus:
Well then, if you won't answer My question, I won't tell you by what authority I have acted.
He told the people another parable:

Jesus:
A man planted a vineyard. He rented it to tenants and went for a long trip to another country. At the harvest time, he sent a servant to the tenants so he could be paid his share of the vineyard's fruit, but the tenants beat the servant and sent him away empty-handed. The man sent another servant, and they beat him and treated him disgracefully and sent him away empty-handed too. He sent a third servant who was injured and thrown out. Then the vineyard owner said, "Now what am I going to do? I'll send my much-loved son. They should treat him with respect."

But when the tenants recognized the owner's son, they said, "Here's our chance to actually own this vineyard! Let's kill the owner's heir so we can claim this place as our own!" So they threw him out of the vineyard and murdered him. What do you think the owner will do to these scoundrels?

I'll tell you what he'll do; he'll come and wipe those tenants out, and he'll give the vineyard to others.
Crowd:
No! God forbid that this should happen!
Jesus:
Why then do the Hebrew Scriptures contain these words:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the very stone
that holds together the entire foundation?

Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to fragments, and if that stone falls on anyone, he will be ground to dust.
That was the last straw for the religious scholars and the chief priests; they were ready to attack Him right then and there. But they couldn't for fear of public opinion, and they realized that Jesus, through this parable, had exposed their violent intentions.

They would keep Him under constant surveillance. They would send spies, pretending to ask sincere questions, listening for something they could seize upon that would justify His arrest and condemnation under the governor's authority.
(Luke 19:47-48; Luke 20:1-20)
Response in Prayer

Father in heaven, forgive me when my motives get mixed up — when I serve You to get what I want and enjoy what I like. Purify my heart. Forgive my sin. Restore me to your service with a clean and upright heart that loves and serves to honor You and to bless Your people. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.

HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sun 09 Apr 2017, 8:22 pm

"Compassion in the Middle of Conflict" — A Year with Jesus for 04/09/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

I came to Jerusalem and was greeted with wild enthusiasm. I came as the Prince of Peace, humbly riding on the colt of a donkey as prophesied (Zechariah 9:9). I did not come as a conquering general riding on a white horse.

The crowd was overjoyed at My coming to Jerusalem:

[A] huge crowd of disciples began to celebrate and praise God with loud shouts, glorifying God for the mighty works they had witnessed.
The religious leaders were incensed at My entrance into Jerusalem. They demanded that My followers stop their praises. What was My response to these leaders? I told them the truth!
Listen — if they [the people in the crowd] were silent, the very rocks would start to shout!
The time for diplomacy and subtlety was over. People had to decide what they believed about My identity. Fence-straddling was no longer possible. The issue of My identity could no longer be ignored. The people did not let Me slip quietly into Jerusalem. They wanted God's promised deliverance. They were convinced that I could bring deliverance to them. But even with their grand expectations, they had no idea what was at stake as I entered Jerusalem!

Jerusalem's leaders rejected Me. They made the excuse that they were trying to preserve and protect Jerusalem. I knew better. They were trying to protect and preserve their own positions. When I saw the city of David, the holy city for the Israelites, My heart was broken. The leadership of My people refused the offer of peace I came to bring them.

Only by accepting Me would Jerusalem have been spared impending destruction. However, Jerusalem's leaders would not accept Me. They would kill Me for many reasons, but one of their stated reasons was to save their city, their temple, and their way of life (John 11:45-53). What these leaders didn't realize was that they were rejecting their only chance for lasting and true peace by rejecting Me.

O how I wish they had welcomed Me and the peace I longed to bring. But in the end, all I could say was really heart-breaking:
How I wish you knew today what would bring peace! .. Your enemies will smash you into rubble and not leave one stone standing on another, and they will cut your children down too, because you did not recognize the day when God's Anointed visited you.
How could My heart not break?

How could My emotions not be aroused?

How could I not keep coming back to the temple to reach out to any who would listen?

How could I not confront the religious leaders with their hypocrisy, duplicity, and ignorance of the Scriptures they claimed to know?

What followed My triumphal entry was a week of conflict. Please know, however, that I loved these very people I confronted. I loved the people who listened on the fringes of the crowd. I loved each person in the crowd. So I ministered to their needs. I confronted their wrong-headed notions about their faith. I did not hide to keep Myself safe. I did not play the game of couching things in politically correct speech.

The strongest words of confrontation and accusation of My whole ministry came during this final week before My crucifixion. These words sealed My fate. Nevertheless, behind even these strong words, My heart was filled with compassion. I hurt for people held in bondage to their false notion of religion, to their pretentious show of religious knowledge, and to their pompous parade of the self-righteousness. My heart ached for those fueled by hate and determined to kill Me. They wanted to return things back to their religious and political status quo. I did not back down from the conflict. False religion and duplicitous hearts had to be confronted. However, I never let go of My compassion for those filled with hate and determined to kill Me!

I mourned their blindness. I wept for their self-imposed destruction. I grieved their hardness of heart. I died so they could be forgiven for it all.
Verses to Live

This last week before My crucifixion was a week of conflict and compassion. So as you read about this last week, listen carefully. Examine the words of My story reported to you by the four gospel writers — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Notice the seeds I sowed in the hard hearts of those who would one day remember what happened during this week and come to faith (Acts 2:33-39). Today, please remember this truth: even if the crowd had not welcomed Me to Jerusalem in my triumphal entry, the rocks would have shouted out My praise.

When He [Jesus] finished the parable, He pushed onward, climbing the steep hills toward Jerusalem.

He approached the towns of Bethphage and Bethany, which are near Mount Olivet. He sent two of the disciples ahead.

Jesus:
Go to the next village. When you enter, you will find a colt tied — a colt that has never been ridden before. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you why you're untying it, just say, "The Lord needs it."
So the two disciples found things just as He had told them. When its owners did indeed ask why they were untying the colt, the disciples answered as they had been instructed.

Disciples:
The Lord needs it.
They brought the colt to Jesus, threw their coats on the colt's back, and then sat Jesus on it. As Jesus rode along, some people began to spread their garments on the road as a carpet. When they passed the crest of Mount Olivet and began descending toward Jerusalem, a huge crowd of disciples began to celebrate and praise God with loud shouts, glorifying God for the mighty works they had witnessed.

Crowd of Disciples:
The King Who comes in the name of the Eternal One is blessed!

Peace in heaven! Glory in the highest!
Pharisees (who were in the crowd):
Teacher, tell these people to stop making these wild claims and acting this way!
Jesus:
Listen — if they were silent, the very rocks would start to shout!
When Jerusalem came into view, He looked intently at the city and began to weep.

Jesus:
How I wish you knew today what would bring peace! But you can't see. Days will come when your enemies will build up a siege ramp, and you will be surrounded and contained on every side. Your enemies will smash you into rubble and not leave one stone standing on another, and they will cut your children down too, because you did not recognize the day when God's Anointed One visited you.
He entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. He began driving out the temple merchants.

Jesus:
The Hebrew Scriptures say, "My house shall be a house of prayer," but you have turned it into a shelter for thieves.
He came back day after day to teach in the temple. The chief priests, the religious scholars, and the leading men of the city wanted to kill Him, but because He was so popular among the people — who hung upon each word He spoke — they were unable to do anything.
(Luke 19:28-48)
Response in Prayer

O Father, I want to believe that had I been there that day when Jesus entered into Jerusalem on a colt, I would have praised Him for His great works and His great teaching. But sometimes I find myself slipping into the mode of trying to preserve the religious status quo of my day. Sometimes I don't want to risk having an extravagant and bold faith in Jesus and being rejected by people I know. I sometimes catch myself trying to water down some of Jesus' strong words of truth because they are not acceptable to many people — inside or outside Your people of faith. So give me compassionate courage, I pray, dear Father. I want to stand for truth and speak the truth to the hearts of those who need it. Help me, dear Father. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International

HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 08 Apr 2017, 11:17 pm

"Loving Extravagance" — A Year with Jesus for 04/08/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved Disciple,

What would it be worth to have someone precious to you raised from the dead?

I don't ask this question to be morbid or hurtful, but to help you grapple with the deep implications of Mary's extravagant gift that My beloved disciple John shares with you in the verses below. Let Me explain a little bit to help you understand.

Life is very complicated. It always has been since the fall of Adam and Eve. In these devotionals for the next week, we will be looking together at some of the events that happened in My life during the final few days leading up to My crucifixion. These events were part of that complicated life and were shaped by all sorts of forces:

The will and plan of the Father.
The scheming of political and religious leaders who considered Me to be their enemy.
Satan's evil work on the hearts of My closest disciples.
The tidal wave of popularity I was receiving from the crowd.
The forces of politics and religion as they coalesced against Me at the time of Passover in the city of Jerusalem.
The raising of Lazarus from the dead and the attention it brought to Me.
The conflict I had over the course of these final days with those in authority in Jerusalem.
The duplicity and betrayal by Judas and the conflicts in his heart.
On another level, however, the world is amazingly simple. Mary and Martha had a beloved brother named Lazarus who died. I had raised him from the dead. He lived, and this miracle had attracted a great deal of attention. I had given Mary and Martha the miracle of all miracles: their beloved brother, once dead, now lived. I had defeated death and given them life!

For Mary, in this moment of great swirling emotions, political maneuvering, religious hatred, and evil intervention of Satan into the world of My disciples, there was really only one thing that mattered. I had given her back her brother from death. She demonstrated her loving appreciation with extravagance.

Judas couldn't appreciate Mary's gift because his heart was on other things — treacherous and selfish things. His criticism was unwarranted and hypocritical. He knew, and all My disciples knew, that I cared deeply about the broken. I had spent much of My ministry caring for the outcast, the marginalized, and the poor. But when the power of sin, death, and Satan are defeated for you and for those you love, no extravagance is unwarranted.

As you journey with Me this next week, please remember this truth and Mary's extravagance. You see, what I did for Mary and her sister Martha, I will do for you. I will raise back to life every person precious to you who has fully trusted in Me. I emerged victorious from the tomb after having faced the worst of humanity. I defeated the worst that hell could throw at Me. I emerged from the tomb alive again and victorious for you and for all others who truly believe.

I don't ask you to respond with gifts of extravagant riches. However, I do want your heart. Then, whatever you offer Me will naturally follow from the overflow of your love.

Pay close attention to the eight days that follow from the time of My triumphal entry into Jerusalem to My triumphant exit from the tomb. Realize these events are for you... for every grief you suffer... for every person who loves Me and is claimed by the grave... for every scrambled emotion and broken heart when the miracle you so desperately wanted didn't seem to come.

During this next week, I will walk the path you will one day walk. I will face the finality that you will one day face. I will pioneer a way through death so that you can one day follow Me home (Hebrews 2:10-11 NIV; Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV). Please understand; death cannot keep what I have claimed by My grace. And I have claimed you, dear disciple, and those like you who truly love Me!
Verses to Live

Paul talked about being "the pleasing aroma of Christ" (2 Corinthians 2:14-16 NIV). I hope you, like Mary, choose to spread the beautiful sweet smell of My love and ultimate victory over sin, death, and Satan. Think of how Mary felt as she shared this gift that seemed so small compared to the gift I gave her!

Six days before the Passover feast, Jesus journeyed to the village of Bethany, to the home of Lazarus who had recently been raised from the dead, where they hosted Him for dinner. Martha was busy serving as the hostess, Lazarus reclined at the table with Him, and Mary took a pound of fine ointment, pure nard (which is both rare and expensive), and anointed Jesus' feet with it; and then she wiped them with her hair. As the pleasant fragrance of this extravagant ointment filled the entire house, Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples (who was plotting to betray Jesus), began to speak.

Judas Iscariot:
How could she pour out this vast amount of fine oil? Why didn't she sell it? It is worth nearly a year's wages; the money could have been given to the poor.
This had nothing to do with Judas's desire to help the poor. The truth is he served as the treasurer, and he helped himself to the money from the common pot at every opportunity.

Jesus:
Leave her alone. She has observed this custom in anticipation of the day of My burial. The poor are ever present, but I will be leaving.
Word spread of Jesus' presence, and a large crowd was gathering to see Jesus and the formerly deceased Lazarus, whom He had brought back from the dead. The chief priests were secretly plotting Lazarus's murder since, because of him, many Jews were leaving their teachings and believing in Jesus.
(John 12:1-11)
Response in Prayer

O Father, life is complicated. I sometimes get confused and discouraged and lose my way. But as I journey with Jesus through the events of this special week ahead, please draw my heart closer to You. Take control over my heart as I witness the depths of Your love, mercy, and grace in this story of Jesus' horrendous, but ultimately triumphant week. Give me faith, dear Father, to believe that just as Jesus gave Lazarus back to Mary and Martha, the events of this week give me the promise of reunion with all those whom I love and who love Your Son. It is in Jesus' name that I pray. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International

HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.

© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Fri 07 Apr 2017, 11:13 pm


Seekers, Sinners, and Savior" — A Year with Jesus for 04/07/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

You are most likely seeking to be one of My disciples or you wouldn't be reading this. Or you already are a part of My family. Then you are an insider — one of My followers and someone who is religious, in the best sense of that word. So I want to challenge you to listen to the two stories Luke gives you in the verses below. Realize that these stories are intended to speak to you, as My disciple. They are reminders of how you are to treat people who are seeking to get close to Me. Notice several things about these two events!

At first glance, these situations are very different from one another. One man is blind and has to beg for just enough money to survive. The other man, Zaccheus, is a tax collector and is rich; he lacks nothing financially. However, when you look more closely at the two events, you find that these two men have a number of things in common.

They both live on the margins of society — the first as a beggar and the second as someone considered by the people as a "notorious sinner"!
Neither can see Me — one because of blindness and the other because he is too short to see over the crowd.
Both are determined to get close to Me. The blind man shouts and begs for mercy. The tax collector climbs a tree to see over the crowd.
Both show humility in My presence. The blind man begs for mercy. Zaccheus humbles himself by pointing out that he gives his money to help the poor and will pay restitution for whatever he has done wrong.
Both receive what they need from Me. The blind man receives his sight and praises God. The tax collector receives salvation ("liberation").
Now notice one other disturbing parallel between these two people. Folks around Me try to get in the way of each of these men. They try to keep them from connecting with Me. The blind man is given a "reprimand" from the people in the crowd. I am criticized by the crowd around Me for going to be "the houseguest of this fellow [Zaccheus] who is a notorious sinner."

Have you ever thought about why many religious people act so differently to broken and sinful people than I did?

Have you ever wondered why broken and sinful people longed to be around Me, but now they mostly avoid those in your world who claim to follow Me?

Don't you feel sad, even angry, when you see people who deeply need My help yet they are told to shut up — or made to feel that they are not good enough to be in My presence because of their lifestyle? But these people know they desperately need My love, My acceptance, and My grace!

Don't skip over the preceding questions too quickly. Go back and read them again. Think about the implication of what those questions mean for you and the religion you pursue. Be troubled by those questions! Also, contemplate the following questions:
Why would Luke tell these stories?
Why would he put them back-to-back?
Now notice what I told My disciples that My mission was: I came "to seek and to liberate the lost."

If you are My disciple, and your goal is to become like Me, then what does that say about your mission and the people you must welcome and serve?

The religious crowd didn't understand Me. They criticized Me for the questionable people whom I helped and with whom I shared meals. What does that say about what some folks — even religious folks who claim to follow Me — will say about you as you emulate My interaction with others who do not seem so religious?

Rather than hiding from the broken and lost sinners of the world, shouldn't you be out there among them helping them find their way to Me?
Verses to Live

So how are you going to be like Me in your daily life?

What will need to change?

How will you have to connect to people differently?

What criticism must you be willing to receive?

Who are people around you that are wanting to draw near to Me and need your help in getting closer to Me?

I hope you will think about these questions as you read these two very important and interconnected stories from My ministry!

Picture this:

Jesus is nearing the city of Jericho. A blind man is sitting there, begging by the roadside. He can hear the sounds of the crowd accompanying Jesus, and he asks what's going on.

Crowd:
Jesus of Nazareth is passing this way.
Then the man starts shouting.

Blind Man:
Jesus, Son of King David, show mercy to me!
The people in the front of the crowd reprimand him and tell him to be quiet, but he just shouts louder.

Blind Man:
Son of King David, show mercy to me!
Jesus stops and tells the people to bring the man over to Him. The man stands in front of Jesus.

Jesus:
What do you want Me to do for you?
Blind Man:
Lord, let me receive my sight.
Jesus:
Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.
At that very instant, the man is able to see. He begins following Jesus, shouting praises to God; and everyone in the crowd, when they see what has happened, starts praising God too.

Jesus enters Jericho and seems only to be passing through. Living in Jericho is a man named Zaccheus. He's the head tax collector and is very rich. He is also very short. He wants to see Jesus as He passes through the center of town, but he can't get a glimpse because the crowd blocks his view. So he runs ahead of the crowd and climbs up into a sycamore tree so he can see Jesus when He passes beneath him.

Jesus comes along and looks up into the tree, and there He sees Zaccheus.

Jesus:
Zaccheus, hurry down from that tree because I need to stay at your house tonight.
Zaccheus scrambles down and joyfully brings Jesus back to his house. Now the crowd sees this, and they're upset.

Crowd (grumbling):
Jesus has become the houseguest of this fellow who is a notorious sinner.
Zaccheus:
Lord, I am giving half of my goods to the poor, and whomever I have cheated I will pay back four times what I took.
Jesus:
Today liberation has come to this house, since even Zaccheus is living as a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to liberate the lost.
(Luke 18:35-43; Luke 19:1-10)
Response in Prayer

O Father, forgive us for making church about cocooning ourselves from the world of broken and lost people. Forgive me when I have overlooked the needs of others seeking to meet Jesus. Forgive me for the times that I have made it harder for them to get close to You, Jesus. Holy Spirit, as You are working to transform me to become more and more like Jesus, I ask for Your help in having a heart for the broken and the lost as Jesus has. I want to search for those seeking answers and show them Jesus, in Whose name I pray. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.

© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 06 Apr 2017, 6:52 pm

"Unable to Comprehend" — A Year with Jesus for 04/06/2017

Video: God of Gracious Love
Where do we turn to find hope, joy, and peace in a world hellbent on destruction? — Watch Now
Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God,

Sometimes the truth is simply hard to comprehend. I'm not talking about a truth that is intellectually tough to comprehend. Instead, I'm speaking about a truth that is hard to comprehend emotionally. This kind of truth is out of phase with what the world expects and understands.

On My way to the cross, I hinted, I taught, and I repeatedly made plain statements about My passion in Jerusalem. Nevertheless, this truth was hidden from My disciples. To put it bluntly, these facts were too gruesome for My disciples to imagine. It was too horrible for them to comprehend. They had seen Me restore sight to the blind. They had witnessed Me raise the dead back to life. They had watched as I restored to health those with leprosy. They viewed My work in amazement as I enabled the lame to walk. They marveled when I freed demon-possessed people. They were humbled when I stilled the storm with its wild winds and raging seas. They picked up twelve baskets of leftovers when I fed the multitude with a small amount of food. They joined in the joy as I tenderly restored broken folks to their families, to robust health, or to a productive place in society.

How could their Lord, the Savior, someone with such power, have to face such a grotesque and humiliating death? They couldn't understand the truth about My upcoming crucifixion because there was simply no place in their thinking for it. Their Messiah should never have to endure such things.

Yet the great prophet Isaiah had spoken about Me as the Servant of the LORD — the great suffering Servant. This description was the great window of the prophets to the truth I was about to embrace. Below, I want you to read about My disciples' inability to grasp My journey to the cross and to the resurrection. Then I want you to read one of Isaiah's famous servant songs about My suffering.

I want you to realize that there will always be mysteries for you to uncover about Me. These are experiential mysteries for you yet to discover about My identity. You will come to understand some truths about Me because your life experiences and your time in the Scriptures intersect. In that intersection, you are suddenly able to unwrap new, deep, and powerful truths about Me that were hidden from you. Following Me brings a lifetime of discovery!

Verses to Live

Remember, My disciples would have quoted the servant songs from Isaiah as part of their earlier training in the synagogue. However, until the cross and My resurrection, they did not put those songs together with My ministry as Messiah. When they did put them together, what a powerful testimony they had to others. My story was written into the DNA of Scripture hundreds of years before I lived, yet only fully appreciated after My resurrection!

He [Jesus] took the twelve aside and spoke privately to them.

Jesus:
Look, my friends, we are going up to Jerusalem. Everything the prophets have written about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the outsiders. They will mock Him, disgrace Him, and spit on Him; they will scourge Him, and they will kill Him. And on the third day, He will rise from death.
But they had no comprehension of what He was talking about. The meaning was hidden from them, and they couldn't grasp it.
(Luke 18:31-34)

Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.

He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
(Isaiah 53:1-12 NIV)
Response in Prayer

O Father, open my eyes so that I can clearly see Jesus. I ask for the help of the Holy Spirit to remove what is hidden from me about my Savior. I want to know Him and to be conformed to Him. I want to be able to share Him with those around me who do not know His grace. I ask this in the name of my amazing and sacrificial Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.

© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.


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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 05 Apr 2017, 10:25 pm

"As a Child!" — A Year with Jesus for 04/05/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious One,

When you read the verses below, I want you to notice My interactions with My disciples regarding a rich public official who turned away from following Me. I challenged My disciples to think through his rejection of My call and focus their attention on those who are worthy of their emulation:

Don't you realize — the kingdom of God belongs to those who are like children? You can depend on this: if you don't receive the Kingdom as a child would, you won't enter it at all.
Religion gets far off track when the focus becomes a question of who is most important, most religious, and most deserving of the Father's love.

I came to you as God. The rich public official in the story below missed this truth. He called Me "good" and only God is truly good. So I challenged him to listen to Me as God. I told him that he needed to drop his religious game of trying to earn the Father's love. He needed to quit trying to outdo all the others around him in his religious practices. He needed to look deep into his own heart and see that there was an idol he held as more important than obeying the voice of the Father. However, he dismissed what I said. He refused to give up his idol — his great wealth — for two reasons:
He didn't think of Me as God. He dismissed what I said as just more religious teaching. He didn't accept what I said as the very commands of God.
He was rich and his idol — his real god — was his money. Unfortunately, he thought he could earn the Father's favor just like he had earned his money.
Sadly, he walked away from Me and from the joy of My kingdom because he couldn't give up what was false.

Just before the description of this rich public official's visit with Me, you meet children who are the model for the kind of heart that receives My kingdom. Just after this official, you meet My disciples. In childlike amazement, they wonder how anyone can be saved if someone who has lived a good life, like this rich public official, couldn't find his way into My kingdom. I reminded them that they were thinking in human terms. And in human terms, it is impossible. But We — Father, Son, and Spirit — make the impossible possible. All that My disciples had to do was look at themselves and what they had given up.

You see, nothing is impossible for the heart totally yielded to Me. You cannot give up more for Me than you will receive many times over in the age to come (Matthew 19:29). However — and this is a huge "however" — you have to be willing to follow Me as a child. So come, dear precious one, and follow Me!
Verses to Live

During My time on earth, children were not an important part of society. They were trained, loved, nurtured, and apprenticed at home. They were not important in adult society. For Me to hold them up as a good example of a disciple was shocking. To elevate children above a rich, devoted-to-the-law public official was shocking. Sometimes, My precious one, shocking is good. Listen with your heart. Invite the Holy Spirit to attach these words to your soul.

I AM the good teacher. I AM God among you. I AM the One teaching the eternal truth. You either renounce all of your idols and follow Me as a child, or you walk away from Me with a sad heart. If you leave, you forfeit your hope of enjoying My kingdom.

Some people brought infants to Jesus, hoping He would touch them to bless them. The disciples rebuked them for doing this. However, Jesus reacted strongly to their rebuke.

Jesus:
Let the little children come to Me. Never hinder them! Don't you realize — the kingdom of God belongs to those who are like children? You can depend on this: if you don't receive the Kingdom as a child would, you won't enter it at all.
Public Official:
Good Teacher, what do I need to do to inherit the life of the age to come?
Jesus:
Why did you just call Me good? No one is good but God — only God. You know what the Hebrew Scriptures command: "Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and mother."
Public Official:
I've already been doing these things — since I came of age.
Jesus:
One thing you still lack — one thing; sell all your possessions and distribute the proceeds to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. Then you can come and follow Me.
The man heard these words and sadness came over his face, for his wealth was considerable.

Jesus:
What a hard thing it is for those with much wealth to enter the kingdom of God! In fact, it would be easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than it would be for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God!
Listeners:
Then who can be liberated?
Jesus:
Remember, what is humanly impossible is possible with God.
Peter:
We have left our homes and followed You.
Jesus:
I'm telling you the truth: there is nobody who leaves his house or wife or siblings or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God who will not receive more than he has given up — much more — in this age and in the age to come. He will receive eternal life.
(Luke 18:15-30)
Response in Prayer

Father in heaven, I thank You for Jesus being among us in His earthly ministry as Immanuel — God with us. I confess that I sometimes try to win Your approval by compiling a list of things I believe You like and then going out and doing those things. I forget the accomplished mission of Jesus on the cross and the empty tomb that have saved me. So I ask the Holy Spirit to settle my heart in this grace and to reveal to me any unsurrendered area of my heart so that You, and You alone, are my God. I need the continuing guidance of the Spirit to help me completely yield myself to You. Dear Father, I want to follow Jesus as a child who holds nothing back from You and rejoices in the grace of Your acceptance of me and Your promises for me. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 04 Apr 2017, 9:54 pm

"Questions Out of Focus" — A Year with Jesus for 04/04/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Believer,

Have you noticed how people sometimes ask the wrong questions? Those questions reveal their assumptions about reality and their place in it. Religious people are not immune to asking the wrong questions. The two parables that I told in the verses below challenge you to think about the assumptions that lie behind your questions.

In the first parable, the implied question of My people is this: "Will God hear my prayers and answer my repeated pleas to bring justice and deliverance for us, His people?"

My response is the parable of the persistent widow and the unjust judge. In story form, My answer is clear. An unjust judge can be swayed by a powerless widow who will not give up asking him for help. Surely you know that your loving Father in heaven will hear you. He will lovingly hear your earnest and repeated prayers and answer according to His gracious purposes for you. That answer will not be haphazard; it will come at the best possible time for your wellbeing and for the wellbeing of the fallen universe in bondage to decay.

However, I want to remind you of an even more important question: "[W]hen the Son of Man comes, will He find anyone who still has faith?"

That Son of Man is Me! You must live for Me with urgency anticipating My coming at any moment. You need to be full of anticipation regardless of how it seems your prayers are heard. The Father hears and cares about your hurt. He cares about the delay you feel in His response to your prayers. So please, be patient and faithful, knowing that I AM near.

In the second parable, the self-righteous man's implied question is this: "How can I display to others that I am a person of righteousness and honor when I go to pray in the Temple?"

My answer is this: The Father doesn't want you to try to make yourself look honorable and righteous to others when you worship Him or try to honor Him. Instead, the Father wants you to focus on a question of deeper significance about His love for you: "O Father, how can You be so gracious as to forgive me and to be merciful to me, a sinner?" Going home having been made righteous by the Father is much more important than appearing righteous.

Your questions, even when they are legitimate, often have their focus on you and your circumstances. Shouldn't your questions focus on the Father's faithfulness, mercy, and grace? Shouldn't your questions focus on how blessed you are because the Father has chosen you to share in His grace? Shouldn't your perspective include the needs of the lost around you? Shouldn't your questions show amazement at the Father's great love for you even when you were a rebellious sinner and so prone to abandoning your faith?

Verses to Live

Please remember two things as you read the following verses:

First, at the heart of sin, is an "I" problem. People focus too much on themselves! Even when times are hard and persecution becomes increasingly dangerous, don't give up and don't lose heart. Be like the persistent widow in My parable. The Father is listening and will answer you!

Second, God's faithfulness, mercy, love, and grace are reliable. You can trust in them because you trust in Him!

He [Jesus] told them a parable, urging them to keep praying and never grow discouraged. The parable went like this:

Jesus:
There was a judge living in a certain city. He showed no respect for God or humanity. In that same city there was a widow. Again and again she kept coming to him seeking justice: "Clear my name from my adversary's false accusations!" He paid no attention to her request for a while, but then he said to himself, "I don't care about what God thinks of me, much less what any mere human thinks. But this widow is driving me crazy. She's never going to quit coming to see me unless I hear her case and provide her legal protection."

Did you catch what this self-assured judge said? If he can be moved to act justly, won't God bring justice for His chosen people when they cry to Him day and night? Will He be slow to bring them justice? Mark My words: God will intervene fast with vindication. But here's the question: when the Son of Man comes, will He find anyone who still has faith?
He told another parable — this one addressed to people who were confident in their self-righteousness and looked down on other people with disgust.

Jesus:
Imagine two men walking up a road, going to the temple to pray. One of them is a Pharisee and the other is a despised tax collector. Once inside the temple, the Pharisee stands up and prays this prayer in honor of himself: "God, how I thank You that I am not on the same level as other people — crooks, cheaters, the sexually immoral — like this tax collector over here. Just look at me! I fast not once but twice a week, and I faithfully pay my tithes on every penny of income." Over in the corner, the tax collector begins to pray, but he won't even lift his eyes to heaven. He pounds on his chest in sorrow and says, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!"

Now imagine these two men walking back down the road to their homes. Listen, it's the tax collector who walks home clean before God, and not the Pharisee, because whoever lifts himself up will be put down and whoever takes a humble place will be lifted up.
(Luke 18:1-14)
Response in Prayer

Almighty God, I confess that I sometimes place myself at the center of my spiritual universe and do not consider the long-term implications of my influence. Forgive me for my impertinence in prayer and the selfishness sometimes found in my perspective on what is happening around me. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.

© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Mon 03 Apr 2017, 9:50 pm

The Gathering Storm" — A Year with Jesus for 04/03/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

If you have been following along with My story in the gospels, you know that I am headed for Jerusalem. You also know that I am on a collision course with the Jewish and Roman leaders there. When I raised My friend Lazarus from the dead, all the attention I received intensified the whole situation.

Lazarus' resurrection occurred very close to Jerusalem. The news of My miraculous sign spread quickly. As you read the verses below, notice all the different reactions to Me and My work. Before you pass judgment on any of the people who fit the following descriptions, try to place yourself in their situations and think through what you would do.
You believe in Me and see Me raise Lazarus from the dead.
You doubt Me, but can't quite get Me and what I'm doing out of your head.
You don't believe in Me, so what are you going to do about the Lazarus incident?
You are a Jewish religious leader trying to preserve Jerusalem, the Temple, and your role of importance in the whole political, social, and religious environment.
You are a Roman leader expected by Caesar to keep the peace, and you keep hearing rumors about Me and My growing following.
You are a gawker always looking for the next big thing to come along, and so you find yourself fascinated by all the rumors and crowds who gather around Me.
After the resurrection of Lazarus, something was going to happen. My presence would no longer be something that could be overlooked. Lightning had just struck with the resurrection of Lazarus. The gathering storm would only intensify a few days later when I entered Jerusalem to the cries of "Hosanna"!

Yet in all the speculation, rancor, scheming, and questioning, Caiaphas spoke the Father's truth. He uttered a statement in panic with murderous determination that on another level was God's inspired truth:
...it's better for you that one man should die for the people so the whole nation won't perish.
And in case you missed the truth, John comments on it with these words:
As high priest that year, Caiaphas prophesied (without knowing it) that Jesus would die on behalf of the entire nation, and not just for the children of Israel — He would die so all God's children could be gathered from the four corners of the world into one people. In that moment, they [the Jewish leaders] cemented their intentions to have Jesus executed.
So there you have it. Lazarus' resurrection was the final straw that made the Jewish leaders determined to carry out their long-held desire to execute Me. My journey to the cross becomes even more definite because I raised a dead man back to life. My time had come according to the Father's plan. My death was necessary from the viewpoint of the religious leaders who feared and hated Me. Those who hold Me as their enemy will have to work out the details, but My future, My purpose, and My trip to the cross are now in motion.

As we continue to share My journey to the cross over the next few days, notice:
how I conduct Myself,
what I say,
with whom I spend my time,
how I handle
- those who are determined to kill Me,
- those who cannot decide about Me,
- those who have put their faith in Me.
Trials don't develop character; they reveal it. Notice My character as I journey to the cross and give My life to redeem the world — and you — from the grip of sin and death.
Verses to Live

I'm sure Martha and Mary had no idea how big a storm would follow the death of their brother Lazarus. They were grief-stricken. When I raised Lazarus from the dead, they were overjoyed. Little did they know how big a threat that their resurrected brother could be to the leaders of Jerusalem. These leaders weren't content with killing Me; they felt they must kill Lazarus, too!
Then, the man who was dead [Lazarus] walked out of his tomb bound from head to toe in a burial shroud.

Jesus:
Untie him, and let him go.
As a result, many of the Jews who had come with Mary saw what happened and believed in Him [Jesus]. But some went to the Pharisees to report what they witnessed Jesus doing. As a result of these reports — and on short notice — the chief priests and Pharisees called a meeting of the high council.

Pharisees:
What are we going to do about this man? He is performing many miracles. If we don't stop this now, every man, woman, and child will believe in Him. You know what will happen next? The Romans will think He's mounting a revolution and will destroy our temple. It will be the end of our nation.
Caiaphas, the High Priest That Year:
You have no idea what you are talking about; what you don't understand is that it's better for you that one man should die for the people so the whole nation won't perish.
His speech was more than it seemed. As high priest that year, Caiaphas prophesied (without knowing it) that Jesus would die on behalf of the entire nation, and not just for the children of Israel — He would die so all God's children could be gathered from the four corners of the world into one people. In that moment, they cemented their intentions to have Jesus executed.

From that day forward, Jesus refrained from walking publicly among the people in Judea. He withdrew to a small town known as Ephraim, a rural area near the wilderness, where He set up camp with His disciples.

The Passover was approaching, and Jews everywhere traveled to Jerusalem early so they could purify themselves and prepare for Passover. People were looking for Jesus, hoping to catch a glimpse of Him in the city. All the while, some Jews were discussing Him in the temple.

Some Jews:
Do you think He will decide not to come to Jerusalem this year for the feast?
In the midst of this confusion, the Pharisees and the chief priests ordered that if anyone knew the whereabouts of Jesus of Nazareth, it must be reported immediately so they could arrest Him.
(John 11:44-57)

The chief priests were secretly plotting Lazarus's murder since, because of him, many Jews were leaving their teachings and believing in Jesus.
(John 12:10-11)
Response in Prayer

O Father, because I know the story of Jesus' crucifixion, my heart is heavy with His impending rejection, ridicule, and crucifixion. Still I find it powerful that the Holy Spirit can use words said by Caiaphas out of a self-preserving hatred to speak about the powerful, worldwide implications of the death that Jesus is about to face and the resurrection that will prove that He is Lord of all. Speak to my heart in fresh and convicting ways as I journey with Jesus through His crucifixion and on to His resurrection, always knowing that He did what He did for every person in the world. In His name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sun 02 Apr 2017, 10:19 pm

"Presuming on Grace?" — A Year with Jesus for 04/02/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

Caiaphas spoke treacherously about Me. At the same time, he also unwittingly spoke God's truth about My mission:
Caiaphas, the High Priest That Year:
...it's better... that one man should die for the people so the whole nation won't perish.
... As high priest that year, Caiaphas prophesied (without knowing it) that Jesus would die on behalf of the entire nation, and not just for the children of Israel — He would die so all God’s children could be gathered from the four corners of the world into one people.
(John 11:50-52)
Many of My own people would reject Me (John 1:10-11) and have Me crucified by the Romans (Acts 2:22-23; Acts 3:13-15). However, My death and resurrection would draw all kinds of people — Jews and non-Jews alike (John 12:32-33) — to Me as disciples. I didn't die just for one group, but I died for the sins of all people (1 John 2:1-2).

I want you to hear My loving, but firm, words of truth. No group, no race, no country, and no region can grow calloused and presume they are the only recipients of heaven's grace! We — Father, Son, and Spirit — called Abraham to be the father of a new nation. This nation was to live in a special relationship with Us and be a blessing to all nations of the world (Genesis 12:1-3).

Abraham and his descendants, the Israelites, received Our promises and shared in the blessings of Our covenants. We called Israel to be a light to the nations. Israel was to be a blessing to those trapped in the darkness of sin, paganism, and ignorance. Yet throughout Our long history of loving patience with Our chosen people, you will find exceptional person after exceptional person who was not an Israelite by race. And each of these remarkable people became part of Israel's great story of faith — people like Rahab, Ruth, and several centurions you meet in the New Testament. So as I near My chosen city that is about to reject Me, you shouldn't be surprised by the thankful outsider in the story below. This outsider is the only one who returns to thank me.

Years earlier, Moses had repeatedly warned the Israelite people never to forget all that their great I AM had done for them. Regardless, how quickly they did forget. So I ask you not to presume on the grace you have received. Don't assume that Our blessings are yours by national privilege, racial preference, religious heritage, or your own righteousness. As Hosea declared and the apostle Paul repeatedly pointed out, My righteous people will live by faith. What's more, that faith will motivate them to take the grace they have received and share it with others.
Verses to Live

As you read the verses below, think back on the blessings that you have received. Ask yourself if you are more like the nine insiders who didn't offer thanks for their healing or the one outsider who returned to thank Me.
Jesus was still pressing toward Jerusalem, taking a road that went along the border between Samaria (considered undesirable territory) and Galilee. On the outskirts of a border town along this road, He was greeted from a distance by a group of 10 people who were under quarantine because of an ugly and disgusting skin disease known as leprosy.

Lepers (shouting across the distance):
Jesus, Master, show mercy to us!
Jesus:
Go now and present yourselves to the priests for inspection of your disease.
They went, and before they reached the priests, their skin disease was healed, leaving no trace of the disease that scarred them and separated them from the community.

One of them, the instant he realized he had been healed, turned and ran back to Jesus, shouting praises to God. He prostrated himself facedown at Jesus' feet.

Leper:
Thank You! Thank You!
Now this fellow happened to be, not a Jew, but a Samaritan.

Jesus:
Didn't all ten receive the same healing this fellow did? Where are the other nine? Was the only one who came back to give God praise an outsider? (to the Samaritan man) Get up, and go your way. Your faith has made you healthy again.
(Luke 17:11-19)
Response in Prayer

O Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. I want the reign of Your grace to completely capture my heart and continue to change my attitudes, my words, and my actions to reflect my deep appreciation for the grace You have given me. I recognize that I am saved by Your grace. I trust that Jesus' death on the cross and His resurrection defeated the power of sin and death, purchasing my pardon and making me Your child. May I never presume on Your amazing grace, O Lord! In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 01 Apr 2017, 9:38 pm

"Unbound" — A Year with Jesus for 04/01/2017
Note from Jesus
Dear Precious One,

Yesterday I talked to you about the importance of My grace leading you to forgive those who have wounded you. That is hard. Today I want to talk to you about one of My greatest enemies (1 Corinthians 15:24-26) and one of the primary reasons I came to earth and walked as God among you. I came to defeat the power of sin and death and the hold they have over you.

Please know I hurt when grief rips apart your life and tears huge and gaping holes in your heart. My weeping at Martha's and Mary's pain, detailed in the verses below, is a reminder to you. While you shouldn't "grieve like people who have no hope" (1 Thessalonians 4:13 NLT), death still can wound you even when your faith is rich and full. I knew that I was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, yet the grief of his two sisters tore at My heart. I know the great resurrection life I will share with everyone who dies and belongs to Me, yet the grief of each person's family and friends still tears at My heart!

There are many things about John's account of My raising Lazarus to life that can bless you and challenge you:
The fact that people die doesn't mean I do not love them and those who love them.
People's death is not a sign that I don't hear the prayers of their loved ones.
People who die with faith in Me have not really died; just their bodies die. They are still connected intimately to Me and will be with Me throughout eternity.
I hurt deeply with the death of those who love Me, and I hurt and I am intensely troubled for their families' pain as well.
There are even more messages for you to hear, but one clear message from Me to you today is this: death should not hold you hostage if you belong to Me! Listen to the last words in the verses below referring to Lazarus, who had been dead, and let them reverberate in your heart:
Untie him, and let him go.
Verses to Live

Before you read the account about Lazarus, I want to remind you of two passages in your New Testament that speak to the truth that death should not hold you hostage. I want you to hear both of them so that you have their echo of My truth in your heart as you read John's account that follows:
Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

"Death is swallowed up in victory.

O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?"

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:54-57 NLT)

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)
I hurt when you hurt because of grief, but please know that all grief for those who belong to Me will ultimately be caught up in glory on the day when the Father will wipe every tear from your eyes (Revelation 7:17; Revelation 21:4):
There was a certain man who was very ill. He was known as Lazarus from Bethany, which is the hometown of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary did a beautiful thing for Jesus. She anointed the Lord with a pleasant-smelling oil and wiped His feet with her hair. Her brother Lazarus became deathly ill, so the sisters immediately sent a message to Jesus which said, "Lord, the one You love is very ill." Jesus heard the message.

Jesus:
His sickness will not end in his death but will bring great glory to God. As these events unfold, the Son of God will be exalted.
Jesus dearly loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. However, after receiving this news, He waited two more days where He was.

Jesus (speaking to the disciples):
It is time to return to Judea.
Disciples:
Teacher, the last time You were there, some Jews attempted to execute You by crushing You with stones. Why would You go back?
Jesus:
There are 12 hours of daylight, correct? If anyone walks in the day, that person does not stumble because he or she sees the light of the world. If anyone walks at night, he will trip and fall because he does not have the light within. (Jesus briefly pauses.) Our friend Lazarus has gone to sleep, so I will go to awaken him.
Disciples:
Lord, if he is sleeping, then he will be all right.
Jesus used "sleep" as a metaphor for death, but the disciples took Him literally and did not understand. Then Jesus spoke plainly.

Jesus:
Lazarus is dead, and I am grateful for your sakes that I was not there when he died. Now you will see and believe. Gather yourselves, and let's go to him.
Thomas, the Twin (to the disciples):
Let's go so we can die with Him.
As Jesus was approaching Bethany (which is about two miles east of Jerusalem), He heard that Lazarus had been in the tomb four days. Now many people had come to comfort Mary and Martha as they mourned the loss of their brother. Martha went to meet Jesus when word arrived that He was approaching Bethany, but Mary stayed behind at the house.

Martha:
Lord, if You had been with us, my brother would not have died. Even so I still believe that anything You ask of God will be done.
Jesus:
Your brother will rise to life.
Martha:
I know. He will rise again when everyone is resurrected on the last day.
Jesus:
I am the resurrection and the source of all life; those who believe in Me will live even in death. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never truly die. Do you believe this?
Martha:
Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Anointed, the Liberating King, God's own Son Who we have heard is coming into the world.
After this Martha ran home to Mary.

Martha (whispering to Mary):
Come with me. The Teacher is here, and He has asked for you.
Mary did not waste a minute. She got up and went to the same spot where Martha had found Jesus outside the village. The people gathered in her home offering support and comfort assumed she was going back to the tomb to cry and mourn, so they followed her. Mary approached Jesus, saw Him, and fell at His feet.

Mary:
Lord, if only You had been here, my brother would still be alive.
When Jesus saw Mary's profound grief and the moaning and weeping of her companions, He was deeply moved by their pain in His spirit and was intensely troubled.

Jesus:
Where have you laid his body?
Jews:
Come and see, Lord.
As they walked, Jesus wept; and everyone noticed how much Jesus must have loved Lazarus. But others were skeptical.

Others:
If this man can give sight to the blind, He could have kept him from dying.
Then Jesus, Who was intensely troubled by all of this, approached the tomb — a small cave covered by a massive stone.

Jesus:
Remove the stone.
Martha:
Lord, he has been dead four days; the stench will be unbearable.
Jesus:
Remember, I told you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God.
They removed the stone, and Jesus lifted His eyes toward heaven.

Jesus:
Father, I am grateful that You have heard Me. I know that You are always listening, but I proclaim it loudly so that everyone here will believe You have sent Me.
After these words, He called out in a thunderous voice.

Jesus:
Lazarus, come out!
Then, the man who was dead walked out of his tomb bound from head to toe in a burial shroud.

Jesus:
Untie him, and let him go.
(John 11:1-44)
Response in Prayer

There are no words, dear Father, to express my thanks for the assurance that You care about my grief, heartbreak, and loss. I find myself angry at the emptiness and seemingly incurable wound that grief leaves in me. However, dear Father, because of Your grief at the sacrifice of Your Son and because of His power over the grave, I trust that my grief will be absorbed in the victory You have planned for me and those who share My love for Jesus. I just need the comfort and tangible sense of Your presence during times of sorrow to help me hang on to that faith. Please be near, I pray, in Jesus' name. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Fri 31 Mar 2017, 9:29 pm

"A Matter of Obedient Trust" — A Year with Jesus for 03/30/2017
Does God Still Care?
Why would God want to claim me as his child when I have failed him?
— Watch Video http://www.heartlight.org/articles/201703/20170330_godstillcares.html
Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

I talked to you yesterday about managing your assets with spiritual wisdom — about investing your assets in the places where 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 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. The things that he did were clearly out of phase with the people and things in which I invested My life. So the rich man is everything opposite to what I taught you yesterday — he is the anti-hero. This situation 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 for anyone who knows the Scriptures. Unfortunately, the rich man didn't realize his foolishness until after his untimely death and because of the punishment he had brought on himself. So I want to remind you to use your blessings to care for your brothers and sisters 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 the main thing that I want you to focus upon today. People want to blame their lack of passion, their lack of focus on godliness, and their lack of living with urgency for God's kingdom on everything but themselves. They say things like:
"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 a self-delusional rationalization. If folks don't get the truth from Scripture, they are not going to believe it even if it is talked about more frequently or if the teaching is accompanied by a couple of miracles. Getting the message of Scripture is a matter of obedient trust in the truth of Scripture. If folks don'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 your life in things that align with the heart of God. His will, His character, and compassion must be the passion of each 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. Grace, however, 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 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 today and what I teach a little later, you will see that James and Paul 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 at Jesus' trial and crucifixion to courage after His resurrection is a powerful testimony to me. And 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, as I open Your Scriptures to hear Your truth, I pray that You use the Spirit to conform me to be like Jesus and transform my heart to care about what matters to You. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.

"One of the Hardest 'Miracles'" — A Year with Jesus for 03/31/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

What's the hardest miracle to perform? I know many of you would love to see some great miracle of your selection to help you believe. Yet all around you every day, some of the most amazingly wondrous transformations happen by divine power at work in My followers. As My disciples show in the verses below, one of the hardest of the wondrous transformations is for the power of grace to lead a wounded heart to forgive.

This very important reality is the focus of My teaching about prayer and miraculous results. One of the hardest "miracles" to believe possible is forgiveness. I taught about this repeatedly in My ministry on earth. This teaching is rooted in the two greatest commands — to love the Lord your God with all you are and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). You cannot be wrong with your brother or sister on earth and be right with your Father in heaven. It's that simple to say and yet very hard for the wounded human heart to love as it should. This teaching is also based on another essential reality: you do not truly appreciate the forgiveness you have received if you do not pass along that same grace of forgiveness to others (Matthew 6:14; Matthew 18:23-35; Ephesians 4:32).

Yes, this is a hard truth. That's why your forgiveness of others may be one of the hardest "miracles" to perform. Feeding 5,000? Not hard for Me with 5 loaves and 2 fish. Raising the dead? I have done that. Healing the blind, the lame, the paralyzed, the leprous? I have done that repeatedly. However, changing a wounded heart that has been abused and mistreated is so much harder because that change depends on the submission of the person to My will in spite of whatever may have happened to him or her. Grace has to permeate down to a broken and dark place in a person's soul and capture it with the truth of what I did to redeem it. For you to genuinely forgive those who come in repentance and ask for forgiveness is a hard wonder to perform, but not impossible!

What I want you to realize is that if you can have "faith the size of a single, tiny mustard seed", then that "little faith can accomplish the seemingly impossible" — including turning your wounded heart into a gracious heart like Mine! Watch what I do as I journey toward Jerusalem to take up the cross. Remember My words of forgiveness. Remember why I did what I did — not because I wanted to face suffering and heartbreak, but because those who sinned and rejected Me, both then and in your day, need My forgiveness and grace.

The same spirit of forgiveness and grace must be true of you as you deal with those who hurt you and sin against you. They need your grace displayed to them to understand the power of My grace. So when you forgive, don't act like you deserve a medal for doing something hard. Yes, it is hard, very hard, and sometimes it feels impossibly hard. If you call yourself My disciple, that means you have committed to the lifestyle of the cross. Sometimes that will seem as hard for you to face as it was for Me to face the rejection, mockery, agony, and humiliation of My cross. Forgiving others is not only a sign that you have faith to follow My example of forgiveness. It also means that you realize that you are My servant and "unworthy of extra consideration or thanks" since you were just doing your "duty". I don't say that to be harsh, but to help you realize how important forgiveness is in My family of grace!
Verses to Live

I want you to know, My dear disciple, that much of My teaching during My journey to Jerusalem and the cross is challenging and sometimes just very hard to accept at a human level. It doesn't make sense. It seems upside down to the way your world works. So I ask you again to watch Me and what I do on the way to My cross and all that goes with My passion. Redeeming a lost world means living a radical discipleship. I wasn't crucified because I was a nice sweet man. I was crucified because I was a loving, kind, gentle, truth-telling world-changer Who lived the character and compassion of God before a world opposed to His ways. I call you to follow Me in this world-changing lifestyle!
Jesus (to His disciples):
You can't stop temptations to do wrong from coming. But how tragic it will be for the person who becomes the source of the temptation! It would be better if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

So each of you needs to be careful. If your brother sins against you, confront him about it, and if he has a change of mind and heart, then forgive him. Even if he wrongs you seven times in a single day, if he turns back to you each time and says he's sorry and will change, you must forgive him.
The Lord's Emissaries:
We don't have enough faith for this! Help our faith to grow!
Jesus (pointing to a nearby mulberry tree):
It's not like you need a huge amount of faith. If you just had faith the size of a single, tiny mustard seed, you could say to this huge tree, "Pull up your roots and replant yourself in the sea," and it would fly through the sky and do what you said. So even a little faith can accomplish the seemingly impossible.

Imagine this scenario. You have a servant — say he's been out plowing a field or taking care of the sheep — and he comes in hot and sweaty from his work. Are you going to say, "You poor thing! Come in and sit down right away"? Of course not! Wouldn't you be more likely to say, "First, cook my supper and set the table, and then after I've eaten, you can get something to eat and drink for yourself"? And after your servant has done everything you told him to do, are you going to make a big deal about it and thank him? I don't think so! Now apply this situation to yourselves. When you've done everything I'm telling you to do, just say, "We're servants, unworthy of extra consideration or thanks; we're just doing our duty."
(Luke 17:1-10)
Response in Prayer

Holy and Almighty God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I confess that there are wounds I carry that weigh me down and burden my soul. I want to believe that I can forgive, but it is hard. And when I will not forgive, I know that I hold myself captive to the offenses committed against me and against those I love. So please, I ask for the help of the Holy Spirit to understand all that You teach about forgiveness and what it means. I also trust the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit to pour Your love into my heart and to give me the strength to believe that I can forgive. I believe, but please help my unbelief. I want the "miracles" of forgiveness and grace to be an essential part of my life's character. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.

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