The Pot’s Prayer

woman making clay pot
Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on Pexels.com

Thank you, dear Potter, for choosing this lump of clay. Thank you for molding me into Your creation. Your design will be perfect, completely according to Your plan. Thank you for Your tender touch. I know the push and pressure of your gentle hands will make me better—more of what You envisioned for me.

I’m sorry when the bubbles of my own sin mar Your ideal. Forgive my pops of anger, frustration, selfishness. and self-will. I’m sorry that they make You work twice as hard to create Your masterpiece. And I’m sorry when this clay has a mind of its own, wanting its own way instead of Your perfect one. You know all.  You see all. You’ve been there from the beginning and have already seen the end, so help me to trust You as I spin on Your wheel, for all I see is a blur.

I’m sorry for those hard lumps that stubbornly push to the surface and rip blemishes into my image of Your formation. Thank you for applying the Water and working so diligently to smooth the rough places. Only You can make them disappear. I spin in wonder and awe at Your amazing patience and perfect skill.

Oh, dear Potter, press me, push me, stretch me beyond my limits to Your possibilities. And when Your task is complete and the fires forever set me as Your perfect pot, please use me for Your purpose. Fill me with Your cool Water that I may pour it out in serving others according to Your precious will. I am Your handiwork. You have fitted me for Your use. I have no other purpose than to please You! Help me to make it be so.

 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter:
so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
Jeremiah 18:4

 Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay:
for shall the work say of him that made it,
He made me not?
or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it,
He had no understanding? 
Isaiah 29:16

A Runaway Slave

The next few posts (8) will be a combination of two sources: the Feature Bible Study Guide put out by the Fundamental Evangelistic Association and Bond Brothers, a historical Christian fiction novel I wrote three years ago.

Philemon is such a fascinating book. It gives us an insight into so many facets of first-century Christianity at a personal level. If your curiosity is piqued, check out the book AND the devotional. I’ll warn you: the Feature Bible Study Guide is not fluff! The writers do an excellent job at presenting scripture in a straight-forward, applicable manner. And Bond Brothers… well, I’m a little partial, but I think you will find it to be inspiring, informational, and entertaining–at least that is my goal. 

featurePhilemon 1-25

Tucked away in the text of the New Testament, this short epistle of Philemon has been called the finest specimen of early private Christian correspondence extant. That should not surprise us, for it was given by divine inspiration and flowed from the heart of Paul the apostle. The contents center around the circumstance of a slave who had stolen from his master (v. 18), a wealthy householder named Philemon, and had run off to Rome where, providentially, he came in contact with Paul.

Philemon was a believer who apparently was led to saving faith in Christ some years before this letter was penned, perhaps during Paul’s ministry at Ephesus (v. 19; Acts 19). He was a man active in the cause of Christ, for Paul refers to him as a “fellowlabourer” (v. 1). It is obvious from the letter that he owned at least one slave: Onesimus, the runaway. During Onesimus’ contact with Paul, he became a Christian and began to live up to the meaning of his name—“useful” or “profitable” (vv. 11, 13)—and he quickly endeared himself to the apostle (vv. 12, 16). Clearly, Paul would have been delighted to have kept Onesimus by his side in order for him to minister to Paul’s own needs. However, a more pressing matter had to be rectified: Onesimus was a runaway slave, worthy of death under Roman law if his master should so choose. He had wronged Philemon, and now, as a brother in Christ, he needed to return to Colosse and make it right. The apostle encouraged Philemon to receive him back willingly and to recognize that they were now one in Christ. Forgiveness and restoration are prominent in this beautiful letter. May our hearts be profited as we explore it more fully. — John Duty

bookcoverpreview-2Chapter Eight: Ephesus

There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.
Isaiah 57:21

Onesimus watched as Solon [Philemon’s son] dealt with the greedy merchants, each one striving to outwit the young man but finding him to be a worthy opponent. The last of the business transactions was finished with a slap on the back, and Solon turned to walk away. Onesimus saw the relief on the young man’s face and was proud of his master’s son. It was then that he saw him—the man who had ruined his life: Leontios.

He was also making business dealings, arguing with a merchant and intimidating him. He watched as Leontios leaned forward and whispered something into the man’s ear. A look of unbelief spread over the man’s face until he pulled back to see that Leontios was not joking. Horror replaced unbelief, and he quickly finished his trading and hurried away while Leontios counted his coins, a greedy satisfaction curling the corners of his lips.

“Well, my friend,” Solon began, but stopped when he saw his servant’s face. “Onesimus, what is wrong? You look as though you just saw a ghost.”

Onesimus pulled his gaze from Leontios, but not before his former master saw him. As recognition dawned on the older man’s face, he started making his way toward the two young men, his face splayed with a wicked look, like a gladiator who knew he was about to best his opponent.

“Well, well, what do we have here?” Leontios said, his voice syrupy with condescension. His eyes were boring into Onesimus’ eyes when Solon spoke.

“Excuse me, sir?” Solon questioned, feeling the need to lead in the situation and affirm his authority.

Leontios turned his gaze upon him, his annoyance clearly visible. When he spoke, he addressed Solon as though he were a child. “I suppose you are also a runaway?”

Onesimus saw the anger roil up in Solon and feared what the young master might say, but what he heard surprised him.

With a calmness that Solon himself did not know he possessed, he answered his elder in a cool, controlled tone. “No, sir, I am Solon, son of Philemon. I do not believe we have ever met.”

At first, Leontios was taken aback by the young man’s self-control, a quality he rarely saw in young people these days—a quality he greatly admired. His look of condescension was slowly replaced with a reserved smile. “Ah yes, Philemon. Good man, although why he ever bought this one is a mystery to me.” He jutted out his chin toward Onesimus, who knew to keep quiet. After all, what were masters for, but to lead, even in conversation?

Solon showed no reaction, but simply smiled curtly as he formed a reply. No one could ever accuse his father of poor business affairs. “Well, I know not the details; however, this young man has served our whole family with great honor and ambition.”

Leontios allowed a chuckle to begin low in his throat before it burst forth into an obnoxious laugh. “Well, my friend,” he said as he placed a hand on Solon’s shoulder and squeezed more than would be deemed friendly. “Be forewarned that his ‘ambition’ may cause you great difficulties.”

The older man swung his gaze back to his former slave. A menacing grin spread across his leering face. “Have you heard from your family lately?”

Onesimus’ eyes grew steely, but he did not answer.

Leontios continued, “That young sister of yours is quite the little filly.”

Onesimus began to advance, but Solon restrained him. Leontios laughed and walked away, leaving the two young men to bore hateful holes into his back. Onesimus’ chest heaved as anger coursed through his veins. He clenched his teeth until his jaw hurt.

Solon watched his reaction, amazed at the intensity of anger he saw there. It frightened him a bit. What did he really know about this man? “How do you know him?” he asked quietly.

Onesimus never let his eyes leave Leontios until he was lost in the crowd. He took a slow deep breath, trying to still his rankled soul. “He was my former master,” he said with marked tones.

Solon wanted to ask more but was afraid of what he might hear. Hoping to rekindle their good moods, he placed a hand on Onesimus’ shoulder, squeezing it for emphasis. “Let us forget him and go celebrate our good success.”

It had been a good day. They had accomplished their tasks and worked as a team. Solon treated Onesimus more like a brother than a servant. Onesimus’ heart slowed its pace and a quick, appreciative smile touched his lips for one brief moment. He would try to forget Leontios’ comments, at least for the moment.

*        *        *

         As Onesimus listened to Solon snoring, Leontios’ words echoed over and over in his mind. Have you heard from your family lately? That young sister of yours is quite the little filly. What had he meant? He tried not to think the worst, but his mind continued to conjure up images of the young women who had been slaves of Leontios. He knew what the man did to them. He saw the fear in their eyes, saw them recoil from even the slightest touch from their master.

The moon was far into the western sky when Onesimus could stand it no longer. He looked around the room and spotted the bags of gold Solon had placed near his pillow. One lay a bit apart from the rest. Slowly, Onesimus sat up. As silent as the predawn breeze that crept softly through the window, Onesimus stole to Solon’s side and reached for the pouch of coins. Holding it securely so the coins would not rattle together, he lifted it from the floor, all the while keeping his eye on Solon. His heart raced and ached for what he was doing. His conscience battled with reason, but in the end, reason won.

With a heavy heart he slipped into the night, his conscience none the more silent even after it had lost the battle. They have treated you like family! Philemon saved you from that rascal and a life as a galley slave. Have you forgotten? “No, I have not,” he hissed, and then looked out into the vacant streets to be certain no one was lurking about. He made his way north through the back streets of the city, thankful for the early hour. He would be able to be far into the wilderness before he would be missed. With so much gold, he was tempted to pay the fare and travel by ship to Troas, but the chance of meeting Leontios or someone with a lot of questions pushed him to travel alone and on foot.

Purchase a copy of Bond Brothers here on my website, or on Amazon. (same book, different cover)

FINAL WEEK

This is the end of our 40-day journey through Jesus’ last days here on earth. I know, for me, this has made this very special season that much more special. Focusing specifically on Jesus’ last days and having the opportunity to share it with others has been a great blessing. May your Resurrection Sunday be more meaningful for having joined us on this 40-day journey!  He is not here, but is risen! Luke 24:6

April 11—Matt. 21:1-11 Triumphal Entry

Blessings:

  1. If Jesus knows the steps of a colt, He knows my steps too! (v. 2)
  2. Praise the Lord that Jesus has and WILL fulfill every prophecy concerning Himself. (v. 3-5)
  3. May I be as obedient as these disciples. (v. 6)
  4. Never saw this before: Jesus quietly rode a colt that hadn’t been broken! He has power over all things! (v. 7)
    1. Some may ask, “Then why doesn’t He stop all the bad things from happening?
    2. Don’t you find it amazing that He didn’t stop His OWN crucifixion—the worst pain and suffering anyone would ever suffer?
    3. ANSWER: God is ALWAYS good. He knows what is best. He knows the beginning and the ending! He will ALWAYS do what is right. Suffering is part of His plan to prune us and bring for more fruit.

APPLICATION: Lord, please help me to worship You in true Spirit and Truth.

April 12—Matt. 21:12-14 Cleansing the Temple

We start this Holy Week with Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a colt, fulfilling the prophecies showing his humility. Today, we see Him making a scourge (John 2:15), overturning tables and seats and deriding those who made merchandise of the Passover system. Matthew also includes the verse accounting His healing the blind and lame.

Once again, I am reminded that we serve a God who loves us more than we will ever understand, but also a God who makes demands concerning our worship and holiness.

APPLICATION: Lord, help me to understand and display holiness in my life.  Help me to love as You loved, knowing that without Your help it will be impossible!

April 13—Matt. 21:23-27 Jesus’ Authority Questioned

  • 25b…And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? 26 But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.
  • Show’s Jesus’ amazing wisdom!
  • They knew that they were in a corner but still chose the wrong path of unbelief.

APPLICATION: How often to I rely on reason instead of faith!

April 15—Matt. 22:15-22 Question of Tribute Money

  • So sad. Here we are in the last week and the Pharisees only seek to trip up the Son of God!
  • 16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest (fear) thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men( no person’s position),
  • 18—Jesus calls them hypocrites!
  • LOVE His answer! Still true today! “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”

APPLICATION: They marvel at his wisdom. We need to do more than just marvel, we need to submit and worship Him!  He wants our hearts AND our brains!

April 16—Matt. 22:34-40  The Greatest Commandment

  • Luke 10 goes right into “The Good Samaritan” story.
  • 6:5; 10:12;30:6—all include the command to love God (heart, soul, mind)
  • Spirit-controlled, Mind-controlled, Body

April 17—Matt. 25-31-46 Judgment Day

The day that the world talks about but doesn’t believe. This passage makes it sound as though we work our way into heaven. But we are responsible to compare scripture with scripture.

As born-again believers, our works glorify God—they do not purchase our salvation—Jesus’ blood does that! PRL!

Faith/works: Jas 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

The opposite scenario is in Matthew 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. These people preached, cast our demons and did many wonders in Jesus’ name, but they were cast into hell. Sadly, Jesus says that “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord…(22).

APPLICATION: I’m praising God for my salvation!!! Thank you for loving me and calling me, Lord!

April 18—Matt.27:35-38/John 19:18-24 The Crucifixion

Sometimes, I find it helpful to just look at the verbs in a passage (oops! Vs. 1-14):
Actions of the chief priests and elders: Plotted, bound, led, delivered, consulted, bought
Actions of Jesus: stood, said, answered nothing
Pilate: asked, said, marveled greatly
Soldiers: crucified; divided (his garments); cast lots; sat; kept watch

APPLICATION: Php 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; THE MORE YOU KNOW HIM THE MORE YOU WILL LOVE HIM.

April 19—Luke 23:39-43, 47 Confessions of Belief

How many times has the testimony of this criminal been used to encourage folks to trust Christ alone? He was not baptized, did no good works, did not take communion, and did not join a church.  In Christ Alone!

Every person that has ever lived is represented in these two men. We either choose to believe or not—it’s that simple.

APPLICATION: …Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.  Mr 9:24

April 20—Matt. 27:59-61 The Burial

What would have happened if Joseph of Arimathaea had not stepped in? Who would have buried Jesus and where would they have buried him? I’m sure someone would have done the difficult task, but Joseph is the one who did it.

I love the way the KJV words his approach of Pilate. He “begged the body of Jesus.” It shows a man with determination. We read that he was a disciple of Jesus.  All the Gospel writers mention him. Mark says that he was “an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God.” John writes that he, “being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews.”

APPLICATION: Is there a job that God wants me to do? Certainly, Joseph’s job was difficult and unpleasant.  It was a sacrifice and may have even been dangerous, but he did it! Oh, may I be so bold and obedient!

Six Hours—When Time Stood Still

selective photo of teal cross decor
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The world may rush on by today not remembering why they have the day off, but Christians know, or at least they should. Good Friday—the day the Son of God died—is truly good because it was on that day that Satan’s chains of death were broken. All eternity hinges on this day—the day our sin-debt was paid for on that Roman cross!

The world may try to obliterate any remembrance of God. They even change the name of time itself from B.C./A.D. (Before Christ/Anno Domini, or the year of our Lord) to B.C.E./C.E., but the date itself cannot deny the fact that something extraordinary happened over 2,000 years ago. But why can’t we get it exactly right? Why must the calendar be adjusted every four years by including one extra day during Leap Year? Aren’t we sophisticated enough count our minutes and days to match the exact rotation of the earth and its journey around the sun?

Perhaps someday we will have yet another calendar which will accomplish the elimination of Leap Years, but as I was thinking about this extra 24 hours every 4 years, I did the simple math: 24/4=6. Six hours every year lost somewhere, but where?

Could it be that our wonderful, awesome, omniscient, loving God had us “lose” that six hours every year to remind us once again of Christ’s suffering on the cross? For six hours, Jesus suffered the agony of the cross, satisfying the sin-debt of every human being that ever or will ever take a breath.

Six hours when time stood still.

Perhaps in eternity, we will understand all that happened that day, but while here on earth, with our limited finite minds, we can never comprehend the enormity of that day. God, the Father, sacrificed His own Son—His Only Son—for His image-bearers, even though the majority of mankind completely ignore His greatest gift. Instead, they choose this life over eternal life, sin and death over forgiveness and life, anxiety over peace, sorrow over joy. But at any moment, on any day, anyone can receive that change by simply trusting Jesus to be his Savior! Suddenly, it all becomes clear. Like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, the lost sinner realizes his weight of sin and comes to the cross for cleansing forgiveness. At the foot of the cross, the burden is lifted! Hallelujah! No wonder it’s a Good Friday!

So, take a moment to be still today and remember the six hours when time stood still.

And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. Mark 15:25

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying,
Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say,
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?Matthew 27:46

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said,
It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. John 19:30

“God, forsaken of God”

agony-in-the-garden-1-1024x768When we read of Jesus’ agony and prayer in the garden—the start of his passion (as Dr. Pettit points out in his message)—and then read of all the agony, sheer torture, grief, mocking, pain and everything else He suffered, I realize that only a god THE GOD of all gods could carry such a burden for each and every human who has ever lived or will ever live! Hallelujah! What a Savior! Is there any other god who sacrificed himself for his followers? Is there any other book which was written by the finger of God? Why would anyone follow any false religion?

So, the next time someone asks you, “Why would a loving God let so much hurt happen in this world?” Your answer could be the question, “Why would a loving God sacrifice His OWN SON, turning His back on Him in the midst of His greatest suffering (something He will NEVER do to any of His people) for me and you?”

Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me:
nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. Luke 22:42

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly:
and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
Luke 22:44

For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me:
they pierced my hands and my feet. Psalm 22:16

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying,
Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?
that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Mt 27:46

Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.  Isaiah 53: 4-6

 

PASSOVER/LAST SUPPER

Well, sorry I’m so late posting this, It has been a great challenge to keep up with this 40-day challenge! I hope you are doing better than I am!!

April 4—Matt. 26:17-20 Preparation for the Passover

 We have here an account of Christ’s keeping the Passover. Being made under the law, he submitted to all the ordinances of it, and to this among the rest; it was kept in remembrance of Israel’s deliverance out of Egypt, the birth-day of that people; it was a tradition of the Jews, that in the days of the Messiah they should be redeemed on the very day of their coming out of Egypt; and it was exactly fulfilled, for Christ died the day after the passover, in which day they began their march. MHenry

There was no question that they would keep the Passover, even though the Jewish rulers were out to kill Jesus. Keeping the Passover came as naturally as breathing to them.

APPLICATION: We can so easily fall into the trap of ritualism.  May it not be so in my heart.  Lord, make every Lord’s Supper as fresh as the day we’ll eat at Your table!

April 5—Luke.22:24-30; John 13:1-17 Strife Among Disciples

What caused the strife:

  • Pride
  • Greed for power
  • Greed for prestige
  • Jealousy (Matt. 20:21—mother of Zebedee’s sons)

Look at the blessings Jesus’ promises!

  • An appointed kingdom
  • Eating and drinking at Jesus’ table in his kingdom
  • Sitting and judging

APPLICATION: Lord, help me to be a servant and to walk by faith in this day, not jumping the gun for heaven’s joys!

John 13: 1 Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

Here’s what I saw about Jesus from this passage:

  • Love v. 1
  • Betrayal v. 2
  • Omniscience v. 3
  • Servanthood v. 4,5
  • Patience v. 6-10 (He is so patient in teaching Peter! It is not here that he says, “how long shall I be with you? Matt. 17:17 but at their unbelief.)
  • Omniscience v 10,11
  • Teacher/Example v. 12-17

APPLICATION: Go and do likewise!

April 6—John 13:21-30 Traitor Revealed

So sad. Why Judas? Why not one of the others? I believe Judas gave into the temptations that Satan had been whispering in his ear for some time. Peter was disillusioned about the kingdom and King Jesus to the point of cutting of Malcaus’ ear. He denied that he knew Jesus, but soon repented with tears. (2Co 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.)

Jesus knew Judas’ heart from the start. I wonder if He worked hard to win Judas over. Surely, the priests didn’t need Judas.  They would have found a way to crucify Jesus.

APPLICATION: We all have choices to make. Some take us further from Christ and put us on dangerous ground!  We think that we’re invincible, but we’re weak as kittens in the face of our Enemy! Only Jesus saves! Only a broken, contrite (sorry, remorseful, repentant, regretful, apologetic, penitent, ashamed) heart chooses correctly. (Ps 34:18 The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.)

April 8—Matt.26:26-29 The Lord’s Supper

This ordinance of the Lord’s supper is to us the Passover supper, by which we commemorate a much greater deliverance than that of Israel out of Egypt. Take, eat; accept of Christ as he is offered to you; receive the atonement, approve of it, submit to his grace and his government. Meat looked upon, be the dish ever so well garnished, will not nourish; IT MUST BE FED UPON: so must the doctrine of Christ. This is my body; that is, spiritually, it signifies and represents his body. We partake of the sun, not by having the sun put into our hands, but the beams of it darted down upon us; so we partake of Christ by partaking of his grace, and the blessed fruits of the breaking of his body. The blood of Christ is signified and represented by the wine. He gave thanks, to teach us to look to God in every part of the ordinance. This cup he gave to the disciples with a command, Drink ye all of it. The pardon of sin is that great blessing which is, in the Lord’s supper, conferred on all true believers; it is the foundation of all other blessings. He takes leave of such communion; and assures them of a happy meeting again at last; “Until that day when I drink it new with you”, may be understood of the joys and glories of the future state, which the saints shall partake with the Lord Jesus. That will be the kingdom of his Father; the wine of consolation will there be always new. While we look at the outward signs of Christ’s body broken and his blood shed for the remission of our sins, let us recollect that the feast cost him as much as though he had literally given his flesh to be eaten and his blood for us to drink. M Henry

APPLICATION: Thanksgiving for God’s Amazing Grace—Jesus, the eternal One, paid the price of my eternal punishment. The agony of those but few moments, in light of eternity, suffered by the Perfect Sinless Lamb of God was the substitute which would have taken me all of eternity to pay. (2Co 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.)

APPLICATION: Hallelujah! What a Savior!

April 9—John 15:1-11 Jesus’ Parting Words

This week I started a devotion which basically taught that Jesus “closed the book on vengeance.” No one should like to dwell on the vengeful side of our Heavenly Father or wield His wrath like a heavenly baseball bat BUT God’s vengeance IS part of His holy character—His holiness demands it.

So, as I look at this wonderful passage, which is part of Jesus’ last words to His disciples (and us!), I’m looking for attributes and actions of God in the life of a believer and unbeliever.

1 ¶ I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.   GOD IS MY LIFE-GIVER/CARETAKER
2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: GOD PRUNES (OUCH!)
and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. HE KNOWS BEST!
3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. GOD CLEANSES ME THROUGH HIS WORD.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. GOD DRAWS US TO HIMSELF—WE MUST BE CLOSE/CONNECTED TO BEAR FRUIT
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. GOD OF STRENGTH
6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. GOD OF VENGANCE!
7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. GOD, THE GIVER OF ALL GOOD THINGS.
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. GOD LOVES!
9 ¶ As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. GOD LOVES!
10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. GOD PROVIDES THE WAY FOR ME TO ABIDE IN HIM: HIS WORD.
11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. GOD GIVES FULL JOY!!

APPLICATION: Don’t lose sight of ALL God’s amazing characteristics. I can’t pick and choose what I want to believe about God!

April 10—Luke 22:39-46 (oops! –48) The Betrayal

Betrayed with a kiss. It always cuts me to the quick when I read that. (FYI: I didn’t know this until we had a dog, but when clipping a dog’s claws you have to be careful not to clip the quick, because that is where the nerves and blood vessels are!)

This passage is so full of information other than just the betrayal. Is it just Judas that betrayed Jesus here? Did He feel somewhat betrayed when He found the disciples sleeping? But a kiss—the most intimate show of public affection!

APPLICATION: Am I true to Jesus no matter who is watching?

WEEK FOUR: Miracles of Jesus’ Last Month

Here is the entire week of devotions:

March 28—John 11:1-46 Raising Lazarus

Spiritual vs. Physical Perspective

This miracle shouts the two perspectives all over the place.  Here are just a few:

Situation:   Physical/Spiritual

  1. Lazarus’s sickness: Sisters and disciples want him healed/Jesus allows him to die to bring glory to His Father
  2. Walking in the light: the disciples speak of the Jews’ threat of stoning and Jesus responds about walking in the daylight. I don’t think He is speaking literally!
  3. Jew’s seek to kill Jesus: Thomas is ready to die with him (probably not!)/Jesus knows His time.
  4. Resurrection: How could Martha know that Jesus spoke of his resurrection?  She couldn’t but I love her faith!
  5. Mary’s words to Jesus: She literally rebukes Jesus; interesting that He does not answer her, but weeps with them!
  6. Martha’s practical side: Lazarus will stink by now! Jesus knew!!!!

It is truly amazing that the chief priest and Pharisees still are plotting against Him!  I hope this doesn’t sound skewed but that should encourage us as believers when the whole world seems to turn their backs on God, missing all that He has done!

APPLICATION: Praise God for His amazing power and love! Jesus wept while on this earth; He wept here and over Jerusalem. Oh, to have HIS heart for this world!

March 30—Luke 18:35-43 The Two Blind Men

Oh my!  What a contrast from yesterday!  This man (Matt. 20:29 says two blind men; Mark 10:46 names him as Bartemaus) is crying out to Jesus so much so that the disciples rebuke him. Mark 10: 32 sheds some light on the atmosphere as they left headed to Jerusalem. “they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him.”

It’s a somber group. Jesus has His face set, knowing what He would face there. It seems as though He doesn’t hear or notice the blind man, but then He stops and has him brought to Him.  Here, He questions him: what does he want Him to do? It seems odd. He’s a blind man. Why does He ask? He already knows. Here, Jesus mentions that is it the man’s faith that healed him.

APPLICATION: I trust the Bible. Some may say the Bible is inaccurate because of the differences in the Gospel’s account, but that does not concern me. Different men from different perspectives, lots of people, lots of confusion—one truth: a man received his sight that day!

March 29—Luke 13:10-17 The Woman Healed of Infirmity

It would be an interesting study to compare the different conversations between Jesus and those He healed: did they approach Him or did He approach them, etc.? Here, this woman does not ask to be healed; in fact, she never says a word until she is healed. Then she glorifies God, looking up for the first time in eighteen years! Jesus has her brought to Him. Does He question her faith? No. Does he know what is in her heart? Absolutely!

Of course, it’s the Sabbath. Once again, Jesus is trying to get the people’s attention, especially the religious leaders. He rebukes them by reminding them of an Old Testament law which says that it was lawful to loose an animal and lead it to water, but they criticized Him for setting this daughter of Abraham free from Satan’s bondage. Praise the Lord that they recognized their fault and were ashamed AND “all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.”

APPLICATION: Jesus knows my heart. He sees inside and out! He knows my needs more than I do and I don’t even need to speak them for Him to answer! Wow! What an amazing God and Savior we serve!

April 1—Mark 11:12-14, 20-21 Cursing the Fig Tree

Just a simple fig tree not bearing fruit! Jesus was hungry and hoped to have a bite to eat from this tree, but He only finds leaves! He curses the tree and when the disciples pass by later, the tree is withered—“ dried up from the roots (v. 20).” There are certainly many lessons concerning fruitlessness here, but His main point is faith—faith strong enough to move mountains!

“Have faith in God,” is Jesus’ answer to Peter’s astonishment. Jesus has raised people from the dead, fed thousands with next to nothing, calmed the seas and performed countless healings. What is it to Jesus to curse a tree!

The statement “dried up from the roots” reminds me of the Temple veil which was ripped from the top to the bottom (Matt 27:51)! God is in control. This tree was not struck by lightning, Jesus cursed it and it died!

APPLICATION: Why do I worry? Psalm 50:10 “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.”  With Christ in my vessel I can smile as the storm as we go sailing home!

April 3—Matt. 27:51-53 Graves Opened

Wow! The graves may have been opened because of the earthquake but certainly earthquakes do not cause the dead to live!

John 19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

Matthew 27: 50  Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

The sequence of events following Jesus’ last words:

  1. The veil is rent—the way was immediately made open for all (This veil was a most elaborately woven fabric of seventy-two twisted plaits of twenty-four threads each and the veil was sixty feet long and thirty wide. The rending of the veil signified the removal of the separation between God and the people. Robertson)
  2. Earthquake—God shakes the very core of the earth!
  3. The graves opened/rocks broken—physical barriers removed
  4. Dead arise—The work was finished!
  5. Centurion’s declaration—the start of the Gospel word spoken!

God is not bound by religion, physical barriers, or even death to accomplish His purpose!

APPLICATION: Praise Him! Praise Him, all ye little children!

April 2—Luke 22:50-51 Malchus’ Ear

In verse 36, it seems as though Jesus is telling them to buy a sword, and yet by verse 50 Peter is rebuked for using it. Once again the answer comes with the spiritual meaning. Verse 36—be ready to defend the truth.  Peter was not defending the truth, he was pushing his own agenda—making Jesus King of the kingdom!

APPLICATION: Thankfully, Jesus is there fixing the problem! Amazing! Oh, if only a miracle could have fixed some of my mistakes and made them disappear! But with each mistake comes a lesson that I need to learn!