Saturday, April 27, 2013

April 27
At the Last Minute!

Luke 23:13-43             J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)  

Pilate declares Jesus’ innocence

13-16 Then Pilate summoned the chief priests, the officials and the people and addressed them in these words. “You have brought this man to me as a mischief-maker among the people, and I want you to realise that, after examining him in your presence, I have found nothing criminal about him, in spite of all your accusations. And neither has Herod, for he has sent him back to us. Obviously, then, he has done nothing to deserve the death penalty. I propose, therefore, to teach him a sharp lesson and let him go.”
17-21 But they all yelled as one man, “Take this man away! We want Barabbas set free!” (Barabbas was a man who had been put in prison for causing a riot in the city and for murder.) But Pilate wanted to set Jesus free and he called out to them again, but they shouted back at him, “Crucify, crucify him!”
22 Then he spoke to them, for a third time, “What is his crime, then? I have found nothing in him that deserves execution; I am going to teach him a lesson and let him go.”
23 But they shouted him down, yelling their demand that he should be crucified.
24-25 Their shouting won the day, and Pilate pronounced the official decision that their request should be granted. He released the man for whom they asked, the man who had been imprisoned for rioting and murder, and surrendered Jesus to their demands.
26 And as they were marching him away, they caught hold of Simon, a native of Cyrene in Africa, who was on his way home from the fields, and put the cross on his back for him to carry behind Jesus.

On the way to the cross

27-31 A huge crowd of people followed him, including women who wrung their hands and wept for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, “Women of Jerusalem, do not shed your tears for me, but for yourselves and for your children! For the days are coming when men will say, ‘Lucky are the women who are childless—the bodies which have never borne, and the breasts which have never given nourishment.’ Then men will begin ‘to say to the mountains, Fall on us! and to the hills, Cover us!’ For if this is what men do when the wood is green, what will they do when it is seasoned?”

Jesus is crucified with two criminals

32-34 Two criminals were also led out with him for execution, and when they came to the place called The Skull, they crucified him with the criminals, one on either side of him. But Jesus himself was saying, “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.” Then they shared out his clothes by casting lots.
35 The people stood and stared while their rulers continued to scoff, saying, “He saved other people, let’s see him save himself, if he is really God’s Christ—his chosen!”
36-38 The soldiers also mocked him by coming up and presenting sour wine to him, saying, “If you are the king of the Jews, why not save yourself?” For there was a placard over his head which read, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
39 One of the criminals hanging there covered him with abuse, and said, “Aren’t you Christ? Why don’t you save yourself—and us?”
40-41 But the other one checked him with the words, “Aren’t you afraid of God even when you’re getting the same punishment as he is? And it’s fair enough for us, for we’ve only got what we deserve, but this man never did anything wrong in his life.”
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43 And Jesus answered, “I tell you truly, this day you will be with me in paradise.”
Last minute Savior.......
How precious to hear the words....."this day, you will be with me in paradise".
If one lives life to the bitter end avoiding God and all He is and does, and then at the very last moment......receives priceless and precious forgiveness and salvation..........How very wonderful
BUT if we receive that priceless gift of salvation while we still have time on this earth to reach others with the love of Christ HOW MUCH MORE WONDERFUL!
Don't wait until the last minute, my friends!
The joy of knowing the Lord Jesus, and letting Him have full access in your life is something you surely don't want to miss!
How much more wonderful to get to your last breath.....having shared his joy and love with everyone you could!
Who will you reach out to TODAY for Him?
It is a matter of life and death for each of us.
No reason to wait until the last minute!


Friday, April 26, 2013

April 26

Luke 22:54-23:12
J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
Jesus is arrested: Peter follows but denies his master three times
54-56 Then they arrested him and marched him off to the High Priest’s house. Peter followed at a distance, and sat down among some people who had lighted a fire in the middle of the courtyard and were sitting round it. A maid-servant saw him sitting there in the firelight, peered into his face, and said “This man was with him too.”
57 But he denied it and said, “I don’t know him, girl!”
58 A few minutes later someone else noticed Peter, and said, “You’re one of these men too.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!”.
59 Then about an hour later someone else insisted, “I am convinced this fellow was with him. Why, he is a Galilean!”
60-62 “Man,” returned Peter, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the cock crew. The Lord turned his head and looked straight at Peter, and into his mind flashed the words that the Lord had said to him ... “You will disown me three times before the cock crows today.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
63-65 Then the men who held Jesus made a great game of knocking him about. And they blindfolded him and asked him, “Now prophet, guess who hit you that time!” And that was only the beginning of the way they insulted him.
In the early morning Jesus is formally interrogated
66-67 Then when daylight came, the assembly of the elders of the people, which included both chief priests and scribes, met and marched him off to their own council. There they asked him, “If you really are Christ, tell us!”
68-69 “If I tell you, you will never believe me, and if I ask you a question, you will not answer me. But from now on the Son of Man will take his seat at the right hand of almighty God.”
70 Then they all said, “So you are the Son of God then?” “You are right; I am,” Jesus told them.
71 Then they said, “Why do we need to call any more witnesses, for we ourselves have heard this thing from his own lips?”
Jesus is taken before Pilate and Herod
23 1-2 Then they rose up in a body and took him off to Pilate and began their accusation in these words, “Here is this man whom we found corrupting our people, and telling them that it is wrong to pay taxes to Caesar, claiming that he himself is Christ, a king.”
3 But Pilate addressed his question to Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Yes, I am,” he replied.
4 Then Pilate spoke to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find nothing criminal about this man.”
5 But they pressed their charge, saying, “He’s a trouble-maker among the people. He teaches through the whole of Judea, all the way from Galilee to this place.”
6-12 When Pilate heard this, he enquired whether the man were a Galilean, and when he discovered that he came under Herod’s jurisdiction, he passed him on to Herod who happened to be in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was delighted, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time. He had heard a lot about Jesus and was hoping to see him perform a miracle. He questioned him very thoroughly, but Jesus gave him absolutely no reply, though the chief priests and scribes stood there making the most violent accusations. So Herod joined his own soldiers in scoffing and jeering at Jesus. Finally, they dressed him up in a gorgeous cloak, and sent him back to Pilate. On that day Herod and Pilate became firm friends, though previously they had been at daggers drawn.
Questions to ponder:
Do I want to stay in the background in my walk of faith, like Peter?
Hoping that I can go unnoticed .... unidentified?
....after all, it's easier if people don't think of me as a "Christian".
In my workplace, in my family, even in my own home it's just easier if people don't know that I am a believer.

What is that nagging feeling, causing me to feel so uncomfortable?
I just want to be left alone to live my life like everyone else!

Then, when Jesus meets my gaze, He looks straight into my heart and I am exposed.

I am NOT like everyone else. I am a child of God......I have a Savior,
Someone who died for me.......gave His life for mine.
I can't stay in the background.....I must speak out, stand up, and claim my position in Christ Jesus!


Thursday, April 25, 2013

April 25

Luke 22:35-53          J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

Jesus tells his disciples that the crisis has arrived
35 Then he continued to tell all, “That time when I sent you out without any purse or wallet or shoes—did you find you needed anything?” “No, not a thing,” they replied.
36-37 “But now,” Jesus continued, “if you have a purse or wallet, take it with you, and if you have no sword, sell your coat and buy one! For I tell you that this scripture must be fulfilled in me—‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’. So comes the end of what they wrote about me.”
38 Then the disciples said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And Jesus returned, “That is enough.”
39-40 Then he went out of the city and up on to the Mount of Olives, as he had often done before, with the disciples following him. And when he reached his usual place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not have to face temptation!”
41-42 Then he went off by himself, about a stone’s throw away, and falling on his knees, prayed in these words—“Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me—but it is not my will, but yours, that must be done.”
43-45 And an angel from Heaven appeared, strengthening him. He was in agony and prayed even more intensely so that his sweat was like great drops of blood falling to the ground. Then he got to his feet from his prayer and walking back to his disciples, he found them sleeping through sheer grief.
46 “Why are you sleeping?” he said to them. “You must get up and go on praying that you may not have to face temptation.”
The mob arrives and Judas betrays
47 While he was still speaking a crowd of people arrived, led by the man called Judas, one of the twelve. He stepped up to Jesus to kiss him.
48 “Judas, would you betray the son of Man with a kiss?” said Jesus to him.
49 And the disciples, seeing what was going to happen, cried, “Lord, shall we use our swords?”
50-51 And one of them did slash at the High Priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus retorted, “That will do!”
52-53 And he touched his ear and healed him. Then he spoke to the chief priests, Temple officers and elders who were there to arrest him, “So you have come out with your swords and staves as if I were a bandit. Day after day I was with you in the Temple and you never laid a finger on me—but this is your hour and the power of darkness is yours!”
Step into the story:
There I was, an obedient servant of the Jewish High Priest. I don't want to go out on this murderous night. I wanted to stay in my quarters resting by the fireside after the long day's work.
But being the obedient servant, I must accompany this band of officials out to arrest that rabble rouser....  Jesus of Nazareth.
Who cares what Jesus of Nazareth is up to?
Leave the guy alone, right? I mean, he's surely a nut. But he is an interesting nut.
They say he has actually healed people of diseases they have had their entire lives! Some say he makes food multiply from a little bit to an abundance without so much as a word spoken.... no hocus pocus... nothing.. And the craziest thing of all? that guy Lazarus....a group of guys went out to see him one day and came back saying the guy had been dead... in a tomb for FOUR DAYS... and then this Jesus came along and well.... they say he brought him back to life!
People say the craziest things, don't they? I am....tramping out in the chill of the night with that other lunatic, Judas. What a rat! He has been with this Jesus everywhere he went for a long time, and yet he is willing to turn him over to the officials for some cash.
Here I am just doing my job, and thinking, "Let's get on with it so I can get some shut eye before I have to start work again in the morning."
Suddenly, you see him.
Jesus standing there in the garden. He doesn't look like any big deal. Just an ordinary guy... but he's the one all right. Judas leads the guards right to him.
One of his friends is pretty upset... takes out a sword and before I knew what was happening a searing pain!
My EAR! The fool cut off my ear!
Then , I can't explain what happened.... but this Jesus told the guy to back off.... came over and touched my head.... instantly the pain was gone... no more blood. I put my hand to my ear... and well.... IT WAS HEALED... right there in that garden... It all happened so fast that I wondered if it was real.
But the blood was on my clothes.... how do you explain a thing like that?
By the time I came to my senses again... they had dragged Jesus off to court. They ended up crucifying him.
And me? Well, I don't know what to think. He sure didn't seem like a big threat to national security to me. And those guys that were with him weren't going to take over the government... there was just a handful of them.
I don't understand why the priests were so shook up about this man.
This healer.
I really am starting to believe what people are telling me about him now.
I saw His face when He healed me. He was not a nut.
He looked like he really cared about me... cared that I was in pain.
I wonder............could He really have been the M-E-S-S-I-A-H?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April 24
Jesus Prays for Us!

Luke 22:14-34             J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

14-16 Then, when the time came, he took his seat at table with the apostles, and spoke to them, “With all my heart I have longed to eat this Passover with you before the time comes for me to suffer. Believe me, I shall not eat the Passover again until all that it means is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
17-18 Then taking a cup from them he thanked God, and said, “Take this and share it amongst yourselves, for I tell you I shall drink no more wine until the kingdom of God comes.”
The mysterious words which were remembered later
19 Then he took a loaf and after thanking God he broke it and gave it to them, with these words, “This is my body which is given for you: do this in remembrance of me.”
20-22 So too, he gave them a cup after supper with the words, “This cup is the new agreement made in my own blood which is shed for you. Yet the hand of the man who is betraying me lies with mine at this moment on the table. The Son of Man goes on his appointed way: yet alas for the man by whom he is betrayed!”
Jesus again teaches humility
23 And at this they began to debate among themselves as to which of them would do this thing.
24 And then a dispute arose among them as to who should be considered the most important.
25-30 But Jesus said to them, “Among the heathen it is their kings who lord it over them, and their rulers are given the title of ‘benefactors.’ But it must not be so with you! Your greatest man must become like a junior and your leader must be a servant. Who is the greater, the man who sits down to dinner or the man who serves him? Obviously, the man who sits down to dinner—yet I am the one who is the servant among you. But you are the men who have stood by me in all that I have gone through, and as surely as my Father has given me my kingdom, so I give you the right to eat and drink at my table in that kingdom. Yes, you will sit on thrones and rule the twelve tribes of Israel!
The personal warning to Simon
31-32 “Oh Simon, Simon, do you know that Satan has asked to have you all to sift like wheat?—but I have prayed for you that you may not lose your faith. Yes, when you have turned back to me, you must strengthen these brothers of yours.”
33 Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison or even to die with you!”
34 “I tell you, Peter,” returned Jesus, “before the cock crows today you will deny three times that you know me!”
What an amazing thing to know that the Messiah, the King of Heaven, would love a person enough to pray for him so that he would not lose strength and would not lose faith.
Just as He prayed for Simon Peter, so He prays for YOU!
Jesus wants us to perservere, to succeed in our walk of faith. 
He knows that it takes more than an act of our own will to be successful. 
We MUST have an ALIVE relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ that will cause Him to pray for our faith to be strengthened.
Each one of us has weakness that we can't overcome in our own strength.
We NEED the help of our Savior to go beyond our self.
We NEED him to get through those tough times that come to us in this life.
We NEED him to help us reach out into the world around us, to show others the way to Him.
He proves Himself faithful to us over and over again.
How wonderful to know that He is praying over us, cheering us on, every step of the way! 


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 23
ON Guard!

Luke 21:29-22:13    J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

29 Then he gave them a parable.
30-33 “Look at a fig-tree, or indeed any tree, when it begins to burst its buds, and you realise without anybody telling you that summer is nearly here. So, when you see these things happening, you can be equally sure that the kingdom of God has nearly come. Believe me, this generation will not disappear until all this has taken place. Earth and heaven will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
34-35 “Be on your guard—see to it that your minds are never clouded by dissipation or drunkenness or the worries of this life, or else that day may catch you like the springing of a trap—for it will come upon every inhabitant of the whole earth.
36 “You must be vigilant at all times, praying that you may be strong enough to come safely through all that is going to happen, and stand in the presence of the Son of Man.”
37-38 And every day he went on teaching in the Temple, and every evening he went off and spent the night on the hill which is called the Mount of Olives. And the people used to come early in the morning to listen to him in the Temple.

Judas Iscariot becomes the tool of the authorities

22 1-2 Now as the feast of unleavened bread, called the Passover, was approaching, fear of the people made the chief priests and scribes try desperately to find a way of getting rid of Jesus.
3-6 Then a diabolical plan came into the mind of Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve. He went and discussed with the chief priests and officers a method of getting Jesus into their hands. They were delighted and arranged to pay him for it. He agreed, and began to look for a suitable opportunity for betrayal when there was no crowd present.

Jesus makes arrangements for his last Passover with his disciples

7-8 Then the day of unleavened bread arrived, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed and Jesus sent off Peter and John with the words, “Go and make all the preparations for us to eat the Passover.”
9 “Where would you like us to do this?” they asked.
10-12 And he replied, “Listen, just as you’re going into the city a man carrying a jug of water will meet you. Follow him to the house he is making for. Then say to the owner of the house, ‘The Master has this message for you—which is the room where my disciples and I may eat the Passover?’ And he will take you upstairs and show you a large room furnished for our needs. Make all the preparations there.”
13 So they went off and found everything exactly as he had told them it would be, and they made the Passover preparations.
 Earth and heaven will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
34-35 “Be on your guard—see to it that your minds are never clouded by dissipation or drunkenness or the worries of this life, or else that day may catch you like the springing of a trap—for it will come upon every inhabitant of the whole earth.

36 “You must be vigilant at all times, praying that you may be strong enough to come safely through all that is going to happen, and stand in the presence of the Son of Man.”
Yes, Be on guard! take great care to stay clear of anything that would cloud your mind......anything.

Monday, April 22, 2013

April 22
Be Strong and Take Courage!
Luke 21:1-28      J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
21 1-4 Then he looked up and saw the rich people dropping their gifts into the treasury, and he noticed a poor widow drop in two coppers, and he commented, “I assure you that this poor widow put in more than all of them, for they have all put in what they can easily spare, but she in her poverty has given away her whole living.”

Jesus foretells the destruction of the Temple

5-6 Then when some of them were talking about the Temple and pointing out the beauty of its lovely stonework and the various ornaments that people had given, he said, “Yes, you can gaze on all this today, but the time is coming when not a single stone will be left upon another, without being thrown down.”
7 So they asked him, “Master, when will this happen, and what sign will there be that these things are going to take place?”
8-9 “Be careful that you are not deceived,” he replied. “There will be many coming in my name, saying ‘I am he’ and ‘The time is very near now.’ Never follow men like that. And when you hear about wars and disturbances, don’t be alarmed. These things must indeed happen first, but the end will not come immediately.
And prophesies world-wide suffering
10-19 Then he continued, “Nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes and famines and plagues in this place or that. There will be dreadful sights, and great signs from heaven. But before all this happens, men will arrest you and persecute you, handing you over to synagogue or prison, or bringing you before kings and governors, for my name’s sake. This will be your chance to witness for me. So make up your minds not to think out your defence beforehand. I will give you such eloquence and wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist or contradict it. But you will be betrayed, even by parents and brothers and kinsfolk and friends. and there will be some of you who will be killed and you will be hated everywhere for my name’s sake. Yet, not a hair of your head will perish. Hold on, and you will win your souls!
20-28 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armed forces, then you will know that the time of her devastation has arrived. Then is the time for those who are in Judea to fly to the hills. And those who are in the city itself must get out of it, and those who are already in the country must not try to get into the city. For these are the days of vengeance, when all that the scriptures have said will come true. Alas for those who are pregnant and those who have tiny babies in those days! For there will be bitter misery in the land and great anger against this people. They will die by the sword. They will be taken off as prisoners into all nations. Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the heathen until the heathen’s day is over. There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth there will be dismay among the nations and bewilderment at the roar of the surging sea. Men’s courage will fail completely as they realise what is threatening the world, for the very powers of heaven will be shaken. Then men
will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with great power and splendour! But when these things begin to happen, look up, hold your heads high, for you will soon be free.”
You might wonder why the title of this page is "be strong and take courage". This all sounds very much "doom and gloom".
But the Lord has given us these words so that in our limited understanding of what is to come, we will perhaps see things falling into place like the pieces of a three dimensional cosmic puzzle.

I do trust that the Lord ALWAYS gives us what we need, when we need it.  I do believe that He has given us these clues to watch for in nature and in history, so that we can be more determined to win as many for Him now, while there is still breath and still time to witness to the lost about our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

So, dear friends, be strong and take courage!
The time of the Lord's return, though unknown to us, may be quite near! ....perhaps before we take our next breath!
Be your last breath to win as many people to Christ as you can, by the word of YOUR TESTIMONY.

Carry on then, in strength and with great courage!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

April 21
Mirror View

Luke 20:27-47   J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

Jesus exposes the ignorance of the Sadducees

27-33 Then up came some of the Sadducees (who deny that there is any resurrection) and they asked him, “Master, Moses told us in the scripture, ‘If a man’s brother should die without any children, he should marry the widow and raise up a family for his brother.’ Now, there were once seven brothers. The first got married and died childless, and the second and the third married the woman, and in fact all the seven married her and died without leaving any children. Lastly, the woman herself died. Now in the ‘resurrection’ whose wife is she of these seven men, for she belonged to all of them?”
34-38 “People in this world,” Jesus replied, “marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of reaching that world, which means rising from the dead, neither marry nor are they given in marriage. They cannot die any more but live like the angels; for being children of the resurrection, they are the sons of God. But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed to be true in the story of the bush, when he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’. For God is not God of the dead, but of the living. For all men are alive to him.”
39 To this some of the scribes replied, “Master, that was a good answer.”
40 And indeed nobody had the courage to ask him any more questions.
41-44 But Jesus went on to say, “How can they say that Christ is David’s son? For David himself said in the book of psalms—‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.’ David is plainly calling him ‘Lord’. How then can he be his son?”

Jesus warns his disciples against religious pretentiousness

45-47 Then while everybody was listening, Jesus remarked to his disciples, “Be on your guard against the scribes, who enjoy walking round in long robes and love having men bow to them in public, getting front seats in the synagogue, and the best places at dinner parties—while all the time they are battening on widow’s property and covering it up with long prayers. These men are only heading for deeper damnation.”
When you take a good look at yourself in the mirror, what do you hope to see?
Every hair in place, meticulously dressed, looking as though you "have it all together"?
Going out into your workplace or social circle, do you expect a level of admiration or respect, based on your appearance and social standing?
Do you want people to ask YOUR opinion, come to you for answers, because of your success in the world?
Do you seek admiration from your believing friends and others in your world,
hoping that they will take notice of your deep spirituality?

This is PRIDE my friends.

There is nothing wrong with trying to be at your best, but there is something wrong with wanting to be at your best so that you will receive special favor from the worldly.
Seeking to ride the wave of high social standing.....
Jesus said he had no home of his own.......He had no extensive wardrobe, no American Express Card, no memberships to elite clubs.
He walked the dusty roads of Judea with His friends and family.......sleeping wherever he could.
He did not seek the rich life.....but chose the humble life of a servant.
Today, when you look at yourself in the mirror.......I pray you will see a servant.