Joy to the World – Up From the Grave He AROSE!

Luke 24

JOY to the WORLD!

In yesterday’s devotion, Jesus died.  And the world –  the centurion, the sky, the women, the crowd – took notice and responded.  Even the crowd that had not been Jesus’ followers, some of whom may have earlier shouted, “Crucify Him!”, now, “beat their breasts and went away” (Luke 23:48).  There was something very different about this man Jesus and the way he died.  Though they did not understand at the time that he had died for their sins – and not only theirs – but the sins of the world.

If Luke’s gospel story had ended there, we could still be forgiven people today – able to have a relationship with God because of the sacrifice of Jesus carrying our sins to his death because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).  BUT – there is even MORE good news to come in Luke 24!  A great gift of God is set before us – eternal life in Christ Jesus our RISEN Lord.  Without a risen Lord there would be no future hope for a resurrection for his followers.

When the women brought news to the disciples that Jesus was no longer in the tomb, “they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.  Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb.” (Luke 24:11,12).   He was going to search it out and find the truth.  Likewise, the two on the road to Emmaus had many questions and were confused about what they had seen and heard.  Jesus walked with them, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27).

Today, news of his resurrection and the resurrection to come still brings great joy to his followers.  There are those who say it sounds like nonsense.  There are those who are questioning.  Be like Peter and seek out answers.  Like Jesus, dig into the Scriptures and reveal them to others.  Declare the good news of Jesus’ birth – but then so much more – his death and resurrection.  Share the Joy!

-Marcia Railton

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Forget Not All His Benefits

Psalm 103

psalm 103 2 b

Yesterday we practiced seeing God revealed in Psalm 100.  Today you can try it again with another great Psalm – 103.  Read through the Psalm and search for what you can learn (or be reminded) about God.

What characteristics of God are you especially thankful for?  His omniscience (all-knowing)?  His omnipotence (all-powerful)?  His faithfulness?  His forgiveness?  His compassion?

Verse 12 gives a little teaser of what was yet to come in God’s perfect plan of salvation. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”  At the time this was written God’s people were still living under the Old Testament law with it’s system of sacrifices and priests.  There was a plan in place for forgiveness but it required strict adherence to a detailed list of sacrifices and who could perform them for what sins.

Sin was – and still is – a big deal because it causes separation from God who can not be in the presence of sin.

And so, in the New Testament a new gift from God was given!  A new path to forgiveness – one not just for the Jews, but for all who would believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ – the Son of God!  The giver of all good gifts gave us His one and only Son – first to teach us how to live and to point us to his Father – and then to die so that we can be saved from our sins.  But God still wasn’t done gifting.  He raised Jesus from the dead.  And today he is in heaven at God’s right hand, interceding on our behalf and serving as the mediator between God and man.

Let us forget not all his benefits…and thank Him for His Son.

-Marcia Railton

The Death of a King

Wednesday

Romans 5-8

There are a handful of ways to think about the meaning of the death of Jesus. From a Jewish point of view Jesus was killed because he was a false prophet. From a Roman point of view, he gathered a large following that was counter-cultural to Roman authority, so they executed him. Or if you’re a muslim, Jesus wasn’t killed at all on the cross. Almost all people recognize that Jesus actually did die, but the question is why? The New Testament has several different ways of understanding why Jesus died. These include, Jesus died to destroy the works of the devil, to satisfy God’s need for justice, to justify us apart from Torah or the law, and to give us eternal life. However, the most ubiquitous reason the New Testament gives as to why Jesus died, is that he died for our sins.

“Grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ who gave himself for our sins so that he might rescue us from this present evil age…” Gal.1.3-4

“…he bore our sins in his body on the cross…” I Pet. 2.24

“God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” – Rom. 5.8

“…when he had taken the cup and given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sin’” – Matt. 26.27-28

The reason Jesus’ death is so significant is because it solves the problem of sin. Sin is a barrier between us and God, it is impossible for us to be in the presence of God because he is holy and perfect and we are not. Jesus’ death satisfies God’s need for justice. The cost of sin has been paid for by Jesus. So through Jesus we can have a renewed relationship with God through Jesus. Apart from Jesus, God sees us as worthy of wrath and death, he sees all our mistakes and rebellion. But in Jesus, he sees us being right before him and clean and pure. Because of Jesus we are able to be in the presence of God. Jesus’ death is the means by which we can enter the kingdom. Hope, forgiveness, contentedness, and so much more can be found when someone accepts the gift of Jesus’ death for them.

For someone to be restored to God and to be a part of the kingdom when it comes, they must accept Jesus’ death. Through Jesus’ death all can live.

-Jacob Rohrer-

 

 

Turn Away and Live

Sunday

Acts 3-19

No matter who you are, everyone has a cause or topic that they are passionate about, whether it be about social concerns, politics, or sports teams. I too am zealous for a particular topic: the gospel. For many years I thought I knew about the gospel, until I attended Atlanta Bible College, where for the first time in my life I read for myself how the New Testament described the message that is central to the Christian faith. However, I soon realized that many professing Christians were confused or ignorant about the gospel that our New Testament teaches. This is the inspiration behind this week’s devotions.

The components to the gospel message are: repentance, the kingdom of God, the cross, the resurrection, and obedience. Nobody, including yourself, has to possess a full scholarly understanding of each topic, but some knowledge of each is essential. The first component we’ll look at today is repentance.

Repentance is a word not used commonly today; however, it is widespread in the Bible. To repent is turn away from an aspect of your life that is not godly and pursue God’s way. Repentance is not a feeling and it’s not something you say. Repentance is action. The very first word of Jesus’ public ministry was “repent”:

 

“From that time Jesus began to preach and say “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” – Matt. 4.17

 

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” – Mk. 1.15

 

Jesus speaks of repentance elsewhere in the gospels:

 

“I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” – Lk. 5.32

 

“I tell you in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” – Lk. 15.7

 

“I tell you no, but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” – Lk. 13.3

 

The desire of Jesus, is for those who hear his words to repent of their sin and turn to God. Repentance is intimately tied with the kingdom of God, which we’ll look at tomorrow. The reason a person should repent is because the kingdom is coming. An event when all evil will end and evil doers will be done away with (Rev. 21.8).

 

 

Forgiveness and repentance are sometimes confused as being the same thing, however they’re not. Take for example two sermons Peter preaches in the book of Acts:

 

“Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy spirit” – Acts 2.38

 

“Therefore, repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…” – Acts 3.19

 

In other words, forgiveness is predicated on repentance. Or to say another way, without repentance there can be no forgiveness. Forgiveness is something we can say and ask God for, while repentance is our action in response to God’s forgiveness in Christ. We can ask for forgiveness many times, but do our actions reflect the plea we make to God?

What is in your life that you need to repent from? Porn, lying, seeking validation from other people, not honoring authority, selfishness, gossip, manipulation? Pray and ask God to bring things to mind that you need turn from. God strengthens you through his spirit to turn from these things and offers forgiveness and mercy when you fail. Repentance must be a part of the gospel message that you present to someone.

-Jacob Rohrer

Who Can Be Against Us?

Thursday, September 28

Romans 8-31b

 

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” (Romans 8:31–34)

There is nothing that we can be accused of or any shame we can ever bear that Jesus has not interceded for on our behalf. Jesus was condemned in my place, and my only hope is to plead his righteousness. Jesus himself is my one defense.

In the gospel, I have found the beautiful, glorious, freedom that comes with knowing that my righteousness is settled. I have freedom to confess any sin, accept forgiveness, and deepen my love for the One who forgives. I don’t have to fear condemnation or shame because of Jesus Christ who took on the punishment of sin. We serve a God who loves us and who is for us. Who can be against us?

-Jennie Montgomery

 

Who is God in Your Life?

Monday

By Rebecca Dauksas

Today North America will be in the direct path of a total solar eclipse, which happens when the Moon completely covers the Sun. In the U.S., the path of the total eclipse will extend from Oregon to South Carolina.  The scriptures are filled with illustrations of the contrast between darkness and light. Proverbs chapter 4 verses 18 & 19 states, “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.”

How blessed we are to have God’s scriptures to train us in righteousness! They light our way by giving us insight and understanding. For instance, Proverbs 17 is filled with advice on how our conduct can help us manage healthy relationships.  Notice that verse one states, “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.” We might say, “We would rather enjoy a dry piece of toast with peace and quiet than a delicious 7-course meal with anger, arguments and conflict.”  This statement made me think about how good it is when we can enjoy being a part of a peaceful household.  It might also help us consider how we treat our family members. Do we try to get along with our family? Do we stir up conflict and start arguments?  Making our relationship with God our first priority can help us see God’s wisdom in every relationship.

prov 17 9

Proverbs 17:9 states, “Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” When we apply this verse to existing healthy relationships, we see that if we want to foster love, when we are sometimes offended, we should forgive and move on. Which agrees with what we are told about love in the New Testament book of 1 Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter.  “Love keeps no record of wrongs.”  Of course, there are offenses that have to be brought into the open and dealt with, but in this case imagine that a friend or loved one says something that is unkind.  Our tendency may be to tell others, “You won’t believe what she said to me!”  Instead, we can choose to foster love by not gossiping about those unkind words. We can decide that we will not continue to bring it up when our tempers flare. We can choose to overlook it and let it go.

Notice the relationships mentioned in Chapter 17-parent, child, friend, brother, etc.

The way we relate to others gives us the opportunity to show who God is in our lives.

While We Wait

2 Peter

2-peter-3-9

Friday, July 14

During high school, I would bring my Bible to study during lunch and free time. Numerous people would ask me why I would put my faith in a book that was written by various authors and not “actually written by God.” I always tried to defend why I believed what the Bible told me but felt like I wasn’t explaining it correctly. 2 Peter 1:20-21 states that we “must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Had I come along this passage while defending the Bible, it would have been a lot simpler to explain my reasoning.

Being mature in our faith and living Godly lives is imperative these days due to the fact that God and Jesus will soon return. We are to “make every effort to add to our faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if we possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV). The reason we should ensure that we are living to the standards set for us by God is because there are false teachers in the world who will try and lead us astray. These teachers will tell lies that seem to be true, but will also deny the Lord and live sinful lifestyles. The people that are most vulnerable to this destruction are those who don’t have solid foundation in Biblical teaching.
While we wait for the day of the Lord to arrive, we need to “be on our guard so that we may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from our secure position. But we should grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:17-18 NIV). Today, I want you to take the time and ask God to show you how to live a life pleasing to Him and ask Him for forgiveness of your sins. He doesn’t want any of us to perish and wants everyone to repent. I look forward to when God and Jesus come back to make the Kingdom here on earth and pray that we all have salvation! May God bless you today and always. Amen.
-Cynthia Fyfe
(Photo Credit: https://dailyverses.net/2-peter/3/9)