Read: Psalm 23:6
David has had quite a life by the time he wrote Psalm 23. He states that “goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”. What David? Do you not remember all the hardship, betrayals, your own sin with it’s painful consequences? How can David say that goodness and mercy SHALL follow him all the days of his life? He can make such a bold statement because he knows the presence of God. He knows that it was due to the presence of God in his life that he was not utterly destroyed. Yes, he was knocked down but the Lord picked him up. Why? Not because of who David was but because of who God is. God is goodness and mercy and it is his presence in David’s life that preserves him. David further goes on with godly confidence to say that he will dwell with the Lord forever. Once his earthly ministry is finished, God is still not done with him. He will dwell with his precious Lord and Savior into all eternity.
God was David’s dwelling place because David knew that no matter the obstacle, sin or enemy, he could run to God for refuge and strength to overcome. You have the same dwelling place. Jesus promised his presence will be with you always. You can always turn to him in any situation.
You will dwell with Jesus forever, into eternity, because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for you.
God never leaves your presence but you can get distracted and forget you are in his presence. How can you maintain a remembrance of God’s presence? Bible reading, prayer and fellowship with other believers is the best place to start. May you dwell in the house of the Lord forever!
Easter Series- Confronting Jesus
Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:28-30 (NIV)
Seven is the number of perfection in the Bible and the number of the sayings of as he hung on the cross for the sin of the world.
Jesus’ sixth saying was “It is finished.” This is the final saying recorded in the book of John. Luke’s Gospel includes the 7th- “Into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Luke 23:46.
A form of the word “finished” is repeated three times. “Finished” in verse 28 is exactly the same Greek word as verse 30. “Fulfilled” in verse 28 is a different word from verses 28 and 30 but from the same root meaning to complete or accomplish.
Importantly for us today, the verb tense of the word “finished” in Greek means “continuous”. It was finished then and it is still finished now. The meaning of “finished’ is more than “survived”. Jesus was victorious in accomplishing what he set out to do.
What Did Jesus Mean?
What did Jesus accomplish that he set out to do? The will of his father. Jesus demonstrated for us how to rightly focus our actions. Our greatest desire, our strongest hunger, should be to do the will of our Heavenly Father. (John 4:34)
In what ways did Jesus do the will of his Father?
If you want to be saved from the bondage of sin and forgiven, look to the cross. Jesus did it all. Jesus paid it all. There is nothing left for you to do but believe.
Won’t you believe in Jesus and all he did for you today?
Each of us have the opportunity each day repent before God. God’s mercies are new every morning. We humble ourselves by admitting that God is God and we are not.
God’s forgiveness is just a prayer away.
Is it hard to find the strength to go on? David, writer of this Psalm had times he felt that way. He learned that sometimes you have to wait on the Lord, putting all your hope in him. Because of the Lord, you don’t need to fear but wait courageously for him to deliver you.
Thank you, Lord, for being our anchor of hope, the one who allows us to run and not get weary. Help us to wait on you.
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. John 13:14
Jesus spoke to his followers after he humbled himself to serve them. The washing of feet was a source of refreshing and relaxation. What had his followers been doing? Sharing the Good News, the Gospel, all around the region as commanded by Jesus. This was hard, physical work, walking from town to town on dusty roads wearing sandals. It was emotionally challenging as many refused to hear the message of truth and grace. The Twelve needed rest and encouragement. What better encouragement than to have your Master and teacher acknowledge your hard work and care for you?
Followers of Jesus today are likewise commanded to share the Gospel and make disciples. It’s still hard work.
Plan how you will intentionally minister to your brothers and sisters in Christ who work hard to teach and preach Jesus.
Won’t you humble yourself and serve, offering refreshing and encouragement to your fellow laborers for the Lord?
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6 (NIV)
The Desire to be Filled
Are you looking for fulfillment? Have you tried everything that is supposed to help you? You’ve heard you need more self-care, more good works to others, better relationships, less responsibility and stress.
So you’ve tried relaxing more, giving more, loving more and leaving more behind. But still, that sense of fulfilled contentment is elusive.
An Answer for You
I have good news for you! You need only one thing to satisfy the thirst and hunger that is driving you. It is the righteousness that is found only by believing in Jesus Christ and his loving sacrifice for you.
By desiring Jesus and his righteousness above all things, you will receive all the other things you need for long-term, deeply satisfying fulfillment. You will have the peace that passes all understanding in every circumstance.
You will be filled with hope that comes from believing. You will have the joy of the Lord. He will give you supernatural love for his people.
What You Gain
No, you will not wake up with a Pinterest-perfect life. But guess what? God knows that will make you filled. However, you will live life abundantly, filled with living water that flows from you.
You will have the privilege of eternal life with Jesus.
You will be filled with everything that matters.
Thank you God, for filling my need for righteousness through your Son, Jesus. Amen.
The Blood of Jesus
The only blood that will give you everlasting strength, today and into eternity, is the blood that Jesus shed for you on the cruel cross at Calvary.
No matter how low you get or how weak you feel, find your strength in Jesus and his sacrifice for you.
At your lowest, stop and remember what Jesus did for you. Jesus loves you with a powerful love! Find your strength in him.
I am reminded of the words to an old Gospel song by Andrae Crouch-
The blood that Jesus shed for me
Way back on Calvary
The blood that gives me strength
From day to day
It will never lose its power
It reaches to the highest mountain
It flows to the lowest valley
The blood that gives me strength
From day to day
It will never lose its power
It’s that time of year and we are more determined than ever to transform our bodies and bank accounts. Smart marketers know this. We are inundated with special offers for gym memberships and invitations to join down lines selling products guaranteed to make us wealthier and our prospects healthier.
Is There More?
But what if there’s something more? What if God is calling us to something greater this New Year?
What if God’s resolutions for us have nothing to do with the New Year because they’ve been there all along?
I suggest to you that the most important resolution God has for you and for me isn’t unique. Yours isn’t different than mine and God doesn’t change and give us a new resolution each year.
God’s Two Priorities
What God wants from each of us, more than anything, every day of every year falls under two broad categories.
We are called to resolve, every day of every year, to:
Why? So that we might spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jesus tells us that to love him and love our neighbor are the greatest commandments.
John says others will know us by our love for one another in the body of Christ, the church. In this way, we draw others to Jesus.
As he taught the travelers on the Emmaus Road to search the Scriptures to learn about him, so we are to teach others.
Jesus final instructions to his followers was that they would teach the rest of the world to be his disciples. So are we to do also.
Are these resolutions easy to keep? Is it even possible in our age of relative truth and hostility to Christianity?
Yes, but only in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is he who will allow us to seek first the Kingdom of God and it’s righteousness and trust that God will add everything else that we need.
Jesus’ counter-intuitive teaching tells us not to focus on those things we think we need most. We are not to worry about what to eat or wear. We are not to build up storehouses of goods or set our hearts on things that moths and rust can destroy.
Get the Focus Right
Instead, as the New Year begins and every day thereafter, let’s focus on Jesus and his word. He wants us to abide on the vine with him. It is the Word of God that cleanses us, guides us and transforms us.
Do you want a permanent transformation from the inside out? Do you want to feel more satisfied and successful than you ever have before?
Take this opportunity at the beginning of this year to give yourself fully to following Jesus. Join the cloud of witnesses who have done so with great joy since the beginning of the church.
Ask God how you can put him first in all that you do.
Where to Start
Start by devoting yourself to learn, live and teach God’s Word.
Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.
For encouragement to focus on Jesus throughout the year, sign to get reminder emails from me with quotes, tips and tools to help you.
Do you realize that God didn’t have to allow women to be included in the written record of his Word?
God is sovereign and the Bible is his creation. Yet he chose to include the stories and concerns of women in it.
That tells us something important about the heart of God.
Read more in this informative article.
What are you looking for? Peace, love, money, power? None of these will satisfy the way a relationship with God will.
Not hearing from God? Does he seem distant?
Go hard after him with all your heart. Don’t let your focus and loyalty be divided. Persevere in seeking him.
Seek first God, his Kingdom and his righteousness and he will give you all you need, including the desires of your heart.
Psalm 90:12 has something to teach us about time.
As we start the new year, it is good to consider time and how we use it. God, who created time and lives outside of it, is eternal.
We, in contrast, are given finite lives here on earth. Moses in this Psalm prays and asks God to show him how to consider carefully the time given to us.
Only God knows how much time we have on earth. Though we don’t know the day of our death, we can know how to live and live abundantly through Jesus Christ. Accepting our limited lifespan will lead us to seek God’s wisdom everyday.
We need God’s wisdom to teach us:
– that our days are fleeting and precious
– how to make use of our time for God’s glory and his Kingdom
– how to live in light of God’s love, mercy and saving power.
Yes, Lord, show us how to properly number our days so we can focus on receiving and following your wisdom.
Here we are at the beginning of a new calendar year. Another January. What is it about starting a new year that makes us want to resolve to do something differently, to become someone new?
The truth is, we are always looking to remake ourselves. We have habits we try to break and activities we want to do more of. We want better relationships, health and bank accounts year-round.
The longing for newness seems more acute, more demanding of our attention at this time as we are surrounded with talk of New Year’s resolutions. There is more hopefulness at this time of year. This will be the time that we FINALLY do it, finally become the new person we want to be.
Reality Hits Hard
The problem is, statistics tell us that most New Year’s resolutions will fail to be kept. Disappointment will follow. Yet we seem destined to repeat the same mistake year after year.
Gym memberships go unused, books unread and relationships neglected again. The clutter reappears, credit card balances are back up and bank accounts are back down.
What is the answer to this cycle?
How can we ever change?
Our Only Hope
The Bible gives us the answer and it is not a “what” to do but a “who”:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17
The good news is we can remake ourselves any time of the year! January 1 or June 1, anyone can become a new person, created anew.
In Christ, we WILL be remade into his image and likeness. (Romans 8:29) To do this, we must leave behind the old and become new. God’s Word promises that he will be faithful to do this.
He will not leave his work in us unfinished.
“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6, NIV)
Tips For Your Successful New Year
The secret is this: get on God’s schedule for transformation according to his resolutions for your life. The Holy Spirit within you as a child of God was given for your guidance and the power to do all that God commands you to do.
Humble and grateful obedience in the areas God directs you to change will lead to lasting transformation in your life. The problem is, God’s directions don’t always sound like the world’s admonitions. You may want to focus on eating less but God more likely wants you to focus more on reading his word daily or feeding those in need.
Interestingly, God’s way will often get you to your desired results but in a way that is more beneficial than the way you would have chosen. Give God a chance to work in your life in this New Year.
Through Bible reading, prayer and fellowship with other Jesus-followers, continually seek God’s guidance in the changes he wants to see in your life. Seek first and primarily to please God by building his KIngdom and becoming righteous in him and God will give you the desires of your heart.
Happy New Year.
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4-5
Are Life and Light Needed?
As a baby laying in a manger in a barn, was Jesus really the Light and Life of the entire world? Weren’t light and life already present in the world? Yes, but not in the perfect way God intended.
John wants us to think deeply about this. He just recorded Jesus’ role in creation. He wants us to continue thinking about that time as we consider Jesus as Light and Life.
In chapter one of Genesis, God created life and light. Life and light were part of the perfect world God created for humanity in the Garden of Eden. God’s perfection was soon marred by man’s sin at The Fall.
From the time of The Fall to the birth of Jesus, the world awaited the promised Messiah, a Savior to deliver man from the death and darkness of sin and it’s consequences.
The Baby Brings What is Most Needed
Jesus, the baby in the manger, is that Messiah. He came to bring perfect light and everlasting life back into the world. True life is one lived with God, through God and for God into eternity. God’s light is one that cannot be extinguished and it draws people to him. All the perfect Life and Light came to earth as Jesus, a little baby of promise and power.
How are light and life related in Jesus Christ? Jesus’ life on earth, starting with his birth in a barn, was the light to dispel the darkness of sin. The light of Jesus came into the world that all might have life and have it more abundantly. Both Jesus’ light and life were shared that the world might be saved.
Thank you Jesus, for being my life and my light!
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. John 1:3
When you think of Jesus, you may not immediately think of the Creator of the universe. Yet, John in his Gospel established Jesus’ identity as absolute Creator. As John described Jesus’ role in Creation, his readers would think back to the beginning of the Bible, Genesis 1, when God by his word created the everything from nothing.
“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3, NIV)
The psalmist continues the theme as the Word of God as creator:
“By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” (Psalm 33:6, NIV)
In Hebrews, God revealed himself through his Son, the Creator of the worlds:
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” (Hebrews 1:1–2, NIV)
Paul further declares the role of Jesus in creation:
“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16, NIV)
“yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” (1 Corinthians 8:6, NIV)
Beyond the initial creation of the world, John states that Jesus is also responsible for all that was made since then. He says, “without him nothing was made that has been made”. Jesus alludes to this when he tells his disciples that nothing can be done without him.
““I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5, NIV)
Baby Jesus, born in a stable and then wrapped in simple cloths, was the one who created all things. He was God himself, coming into the world he created for mankind. Jesus the Almighty Creator, took the form of a man and came to earth so that our sins would be forgiven and we could have a relationship with God the Father. What love was seen in that crude manger in the barn!
Yes, there is mystery to the trinity of God, three distinct persons in one God. Yet John wants us to understand that Jesus with God the Father played an important role in creation. This is one more way that John establishes the divinity of Jesus for his audience.
As you enjoy the beauty of nature this Christmas season, give praise to Jesus for his Creation.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.
John 1:1-2 (KJV)
The fantastic Good News of the Christmas message is found in the beginning of John’s Gospel. John, a Jew living among Greeks, wanted to reveal the identity of Jesus. The way he chose to approach this revelation was revolutionary in it’s depth and simplicity. By describing Jesus as the Word, the Logos, he was able to cross the cultural divide between the Greeks and the Jews and show a new dimension to the term.
John knew that in Jewish thought and life the Word signified:
1. Power. The Word was living and active. Words had great power throughout the New Testament. It was the Word of God that bought the universe into existence. Jesus is the power of creation.
2. Wisdom. The Word was the wisdom that was there since the beginning of time. This wisdom has a role in creation. Jesus is wisdom.
3. God. In Jewish religious ceremony at the time of John, the term “Word of God” was often used to describe God. The Targum translation, in widespread use at that time, used “Word of God” to replace every mention of God that referred to him in a human way (anthropomorphism). Jesus is God.
In Greek philosophy, Logos referred to reason. Reason or Logos was the invisible force that ordered the universe and all that happened within it. Without Logos, the world would be in chaos. Logos had a personal role in ruling the thoughts and lives of every human being. It also dictated the creation and maintenance of the universe. John, in the first few verses of his Gospel, brings his Greek readers to the astounding conclusion that Jesus fulfilled all the roles the they assigned to Logos because Jesus was Logos.
Verses 1 and 2 show 3 important things about the identity of Jesus. The:
1. Eternity of Jesus
2. Fellowship of Jesus (with the Father)
3. Divinity of Jesus
Jesus has always existed. He is eternal and outside of time. He could be there at the beginning because he had no beginning. John wanted his readers to understand that unlike any Greek god or created being, Jesus was “the God who is”.
Jesus exists with God the Father. Both are outside of time and have existed since the beginning. The fellowship of the Father with Jesus is an important theme throughout the book of John.
Jesus is God. He is fully divine as God. One with God, he shares all the attributes of God. John’s entire Gospel is designed to show us that Jesus is God.
In verses 1 and 2, John sets the foundation of who Jesus is. Come back for the next lesson as he continues on this journey.
“After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”” (Luke 22:17–19, NIV)
The scene is a somber one but filled with love. Jesus knows he must leave his beloved apostles soon. He yet has much to share with them.
Jesus with the twelve apostles prepared to celebrate the Passover meal, sacred because it commemorated God’s great power in freeing his people from Egyptian slavery.
But God was soon to perform an even greater miracle. Through the sacrifice of the body and blood of Jesus, the whole world might be saved.
It is in the midst of this sacred scene that Jesus gives thanks to his father. Before passing around the cup of wine to be shared, Jesus gave thanks. Similarly, before passing around the bread to be shared, Jesus gave thanks.
In this foreshadowing of his death, offering up his body and blood, gratitude flowed from the heart and mouth of Jesus.
Facing the most difficult time of his earthly life, Jesus took the time to give thanks.
Do you thank God in the midst of trials? I have found that doing so allows me to shift my focus off my trial and to all that God has provided me.
Jesus gave thanks in the presence Judas, the one who would betray him and send him to a painful, humiliating death.
Even in the presence of your enemies, thank God for who he is and all he has done.
Thank like Jesus did.
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
The scene is at first a sad one. Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus died. They sent for Jesus to come heal their brother when he fell ill but Jesus didn’t arrive before Lazarus succumbed to death.
Everyone is upset and many were confused. They saw Jesus perform many miracles. Surely he could have saved this one whom he loved dearly!
As before the miraculous feeding of the multitude, Jesus takes his time to proceed decently and in order. Everyone around him is overcome with grief. But Jesus will not be rushed. He knows he will do a miracle but he takes the time to thank his Father first.
Why? So that all who were listening would understand that he was sent by Father and only acts in obedience to the Father. The listeners also heard Jesus’ approach to the Father, gratitude. After Jesus gave thanks to God, the Father, he miraculously raised Lazarus from the dead.
Sometimes you need a miracle to come to you or through you. Expect God to do the impossible. Take the time to acknowledge and thank God for what he is going to do.