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HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

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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.

© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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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.

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

Post  Admin on Wed 29 Mar 2017, 9:51 pm

"Managing Your Assets with Spiritual Wisdom" — A Year with Jesus for 03/29/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

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

To help you understand the principles below, I want to remind you of something I taught at another place and time:
Some people store up treasures in their homes here on earth. This is a shortsighted practice — don't undertake it. Moths and rust will eat up any treasure you may store here. Thieves may break into your homes and steal your precious trinkets. Instead, put up your treasures in heaven where moths do not attack, where rust does not corrode, and where thieves are barred at the door. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:19-21)
Use the money and physical assets that the Father has entrusted to you to store up heavenly treasures. Why? Because the Father is going to know how you use your money and where you spend it, and your heart is always drawn to where your treasure is invested. So use your assets to bless those who cannot repay you, to empower My mission, to redeem the lost, to restore life, to renew opportunity for those who are left out and forgotten, and to give hope to the marginalized. Isn't that what you saw Me invest My life doing? That is where I invested My energy and time; shouldn't you do the same? When you read from the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings — what some of you call the Old Testament — what do you see about the heart of God and where He wants you to invest your assets? His focus and My focus align. Does your focus align with Ours?
Verses to Live

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The law and the prophets had their role until the coming of John the Baptist. Since John's arrival, the good news of the kingdom of God has been taught while people are clamoring to enter it. That's not to say that God's rules for living are useless. The stars in the sky and the earth beneath your feet will pass away before one letter of God's rules for living become worthless.
(Luke 16:1-17)
Response in Prayer

Dear Father, I want my heart to value what and who matter to You. I ask for the help of the Holy Spirit and the example and teaching of Jesus to help me use the blessings that You have entrusted to me in ways that align with Your heart. I want my treasure and my heart always to align with 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.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 28 Mar 2017, 9:30 pm

"A Father with Two Lost Sons" — A Year with Jesus for 03/28/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

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

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

Now remember from Luke's first two verses in the chapter what the situation was that led Me to tell this story as well as the previous stories about the lost sheep and the lost coin:
Jesus became increasingly popular among notorious sinners — tax collectors and other social outcasts. The Pharisees and religious scholars noticed this.

Pharisees and Religious Scholars:
This man welcomes immoral people and enjoys their company over a meal.
(Luke 15:1-2)
I wanted the "immoral people" to share My fellowship and come home to the heavenly Father by turning their lives away from sin and rebellion. I wanted the outwardly religious folks who thought they were honoring the heavenly Father with their religious games to turn from their self-righteousness and come home to their gracious and generous Father. Both were sinners. Both needed to come home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The father replied, "My son, you are always with me, and all I have is yours. Isn't it right to join in the celebration and be happy? This is your brother we're talking about. He was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found again!"
(Luke 15:11-32)
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank You for Jesus' story of two lost sons. It grabs my heart. As You know, there are some days I am the younger and rebellious son. Please forgive me. I'm coming back home to You today. Some days I am the older brother, full of self-righteousness and wishing for the things I feel that I deserve as special treatment. Please forgive me. I'm coming back home to You today. In Jesus' name, I confess this. 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 27 Mar 2017, 8:28 pm

"The Lost Coin" — A Year with Jesus for 03/27/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God,

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don't need to spend many words today to help you see My key point. Don't miss learning it, being moved by it, and putting it into practice. Notice especially a few words that powerfully emphasize this key point of each of My stories:
Search!
Diligently!
Found!
Celebrate!
Joy!
All!
Even one!
Jesus (with another parable):
Or imagine a woman who has 10 silver coins. She loses one. Doesn't she light a lamp, sweep the whole house, and search diligently until that coin is found? And when she finds it, doesn't she invite her friends and neighbors and say, "Celebrate with me! I've found that silver coin that I lost"? Can't you understand? There is joy in the presence of all God's messengers over even one sinner who changes his way of life.
(Luke 15:8-10)
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank You for the joy of seeing (please use specific names here) being brought to Christ and being saved. I ask that You use me to be an encouragement and help to others (specifically mention them by name), so that they will come to Jesus and we can share in the celebration and joy of heaven together. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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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 26 Mar 2017, 11:06 pm

Joy at Finding What Is Lost" — A Year with Jesus for 03/26/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

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

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

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

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

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

Pharisees and Religious Scholars:
This man welcomes immoral people and enjoys their company over a meal!
Jesus (with another parable):
Wouldn't every single one of you, if you have 100 sheep and lose one, leave the 99 in their grazing lands and go out searching for the lost sheep until you find it? When you find the lost sheep, wouldn't you hoist it up on your shoulders, feeling wonderful? And when you go home, wouldn't you call together your friends and neighbors? Wouldn't you say, "Come over and celebrate with me, because I've found my lost sheep"? This is how it is in heaven. They're happier over one sinner who changes his way of life than they are over 99 good and just people who don't need to change their ways of life.
(Luke 15:1-7)
Response in Prayer

Father, I am touched by two truths of this simple parable and the reason Jesus told it. First, I am reminded just how precious I am to You and why You paid such a high price to save me. No words are adequate to express my deepest appreciation, but please know that I thank You for welcoming me into Your family and rejoicing with the angels when I came to Jesus. Also, dear Father, I am convicted of how deeply you care about the lost around me and I know you have placed me in the relationships that I have so that I can help them meet Jesus and follow Him. Please help me, dear Father, to keep my heart open to the lost around me so that I can help them find Jesus, in Whose name I pray. Amen.
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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 25 Mar 2017, 10:16 pm

"The Great Invitation" — A Year with Jesus for 03/25/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Seeker,

Yesterday, I warned about one false way to approach My invitation to the table of grace — you should not come with a haughty and self-important attitude. You need to come to My Table with humility demonstrated in a life of serving others. You need to come looking for others who need to be at My table of grace.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the host said, "Well then, go out to the highways and hedges and bring in the complete strangers you find there, until my house is completely full. One thing is for sure, not one single person on the original guest list shall enjoy this banquet."
(Luke 14:1; Luke 14:15-24)
Response in Prayer

Almighty God, I accept the offer of grace You have given Me in Jesus! I believe Jesus is Your Son, the long-promised Christ, the Messiah of Israel, and Lord and Savior of the world. I believe Jesus died for my sins, that He was buried, and that He rose on the third day, defeating the power of sin and death to control me. So I commit to following Jesus passionately and doing what He asks of me and rejoicing in His grace shared with 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.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Fri 24 Mar 2017, 5:30 pm


"Who Sits at Your Table of Grace?" — A Year with Jesus for 03/24/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

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

So what are these two messages?

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

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

My beloved disciple, John, described it this way:
My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate Who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the One Who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins — and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.
(1 John 2:1-2 NLT)
So who in your world needs to know about My grace and join us at My table? Just as I made room at My table of grace for you, please extend that grace to others!
Verses to Live

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

...

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

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

Jesus:
When you host a dinner or banquet, don't invite your friends, your brothers, your relatives, or your rich neighbors. If you do, they might invite you to a party of their own, and you'll be repaid for your kindness. Instead, invite the poor, the amputees, the cripples, the blind. Then you'll be blessed because they can never repay you. Your reward will come from God at the resurrection of the just and good.
(Luke 14:1; Luke 14:7-14)
Response in Prayer

O God, my loving heavenly Father, I thank You for Your grace. Thank You for inviting me to the table of Your grace, an invitation given to me through Jesus' sacrifice. Forgive me when I take the Supper without recognizing that I am a part of the family at Jesus' table because of grace, not because of my religious pedigree or my own earned righteousness. Holy Spirit, when I come to the Table, please stir my heart and remind me to invite others to the Lord's Table of grace. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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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 23 Mar 2017, 11:19 pm

"Hard to Truly Follow" — A Year with Jesus for 03/23/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

O Father, I know following Jesus will be filled with hard challenges, not just the challenges of normal life, but also the challenges that Jesus' enemies and Satan's allies will throw in my path. Even so, dear Father, I truly want to follow Jesus... to become like Him in how He lived with character and compassion. So I ask for the strengthening of the Holy Spirit to give me added courage and endurance as the Spirit works at conforming me to Jesus, my Teacher, Savior, and Lord, 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 23 Mar 2017, 12:09 am

"People Count Most!" — A Year with Jesus for 03/22/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus:
Is it permitted by traditions and the Hebrew Scriptures to heal people on the Sabbath, or is it forbidden?
They didn't reply. Then Jesus healed the man and sent him on his way.

Jesus:
Would any single one of you leave his son or even his ox in a well on the Sabbath if he had fallen into it, or would you pull him out immediately?
They still didn't reply.
(Luke 14:1-6)
Response in Prayer

Almighty God, I believe Your words of Scripture are true and bring life, and I want to understand and apply those words of truth based on the teaching and example of Your greatest Word, Jesus. Help me filter my application of biblical truth through Jesus' words and actions. Dear Father, I ask for the Spirit to open my heart so that in my words, my thoughts, and my actions I will live out the truth of Jesus as revealed in the verses I have just read. Give me Your heart for people, O God, 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 Tue 21 Mar 2017, 11:13 pm

"Cry for Jerusalem" — A Year with Jesus for 03/21/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

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

Will you fight it?

Will you resent it?

Will you fear it?

Will you resign yourself to its inevitability?

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

When I was suffering on the cross in Jerusalem, I petitioned: "Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing" (Luke 23:34).

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

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

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

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

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

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

O Jerusalem! O Jerusalem! You kill the prophets and you stone the messengers who are sent to you. How often I wanted to gather in your children as a hen gathers in her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing to come to Me. Look now, your house is abandoned and empty. You won't see Me until you welcome Me with the words of the psalms, "Anyone who comes in the name of the Eternal One will be blessed!"
(Luke 13:31-35)
Response in Prayer

O God in heaven, my heart is struck with the love of Jesus for these people and for the city of Jerusalem that will reject Him. Part of me is angry at the murderous plans that Herod and the Pharisees and the other religious leaders carry out to kill Jesus. At the same time, I'm convicted that I have often forgotten the cost of my salvation. Temptation has distracted me from the love of the Lord Jesus for me and the sacrifice He made to redeem me. Forgive me for the times I've chosen sin rather than Jesus. Also, dear Father, I ask for more grace so that I can passionately love the people around me who reject Jesus and reject me because of my love for Him. 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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