Good Friday Devotional: The Weight of The Cross

Friday, March 30, 2018

Read Matthew 26:36-39

36Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watchd with me.” 39And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

The Weight of The Cross

When you think of something weighty, what comes to mind? I think of big life events, such as birth and death. Just before my father passed away, the doctor asked me and my siblings, “What do you want to do?” The question was to prolong his life or let our father die. That was too weighty, so we deferred to Dad and told the doctor, “Ask him, he’s still lucid.” My father, realizing his weakness and frail health, made the decision to “let it go.” He kissed my mother one last time and passed away within 12 hours.

To us, that was weighty. Yet Jesus faced the weight of the world, literally.Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 9.44.58 PM His hour had come and this cup he was to drink was full and heavy. It was a world class cup. It contained every sin ever, of all mankind, and the wrath of the Father toward every act of disgraceful disobedience, disrespect and dishonor against Him.

Jesus knows the weight, the horror, the pain and the ultimate cost. Drinking down the Father’s wrath and consuming the sins of mankind will be crushing. Understandably, He is sorrowful and troubled. For in the instant that He consumes the cup, He will experience separation (Matthew 27:46) from His Father that He has never before known; He will feel the horrendous weight of being forsaken.

It’s no wonder He asked the Father to let this cup pass from me. It’s an even greater wonder that he was steadfast and faithful and said, “not as I will, but as you will” and then took up The Cross. This is a depth of love and obedience that is beyond comprehension. Jesus knows something deep and weighty, and He is committed to it. He knows His loving obedience to the Father is the pathway to joy, gladness, and glory.

So He bore the weight, took the blame, and crushed death, so that we might have life.

 

Prayer:

Father, thank you that life is mine to live, won through Your selfless love. 
This, the power of the cross: Son of God – slain for us. What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross. Amen.

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40 Days Devo – Don’t Hurt One Another

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Exodus 20:13

“You shall not murder.”

OF COURSE! 

This commandment lacks nuance. Maybe we would gladly skip over it, looking for more refined instruction that does not fall in the “Captain Obvious” camp.

Not so quick. The story of family begins with Adam and Eve dishonoring the Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 4.33.53 PMwishes of their heavenly Father, breaking the 5th commandment. Then on the heals of their turning from God, something He says brings
death, their eldest son Cain, in a fit of jealous rage, kills his little brother Abel. The first murder of the Bible follows the heals of a mom and dad disobeying God.

It would seem a family would be alarmed by such violence and put a stop to the relational destruction. How could they let it happen again? But Scripture says the story gets worse. Moses murders a man to ‘right a perceived wrong.’ Pharaoh murders the babies of Israelites to ensure they don’t outnumber and overtake his government. King David murders Uriah to cover his adultery. Herod Antipas murders John the Baptist to silence his voice against his incestuous behavior. Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God, is murdered by the Romans and Israelites because he threatens their governing power and their religious status quo. And James proclaims “you desire but do not have, so you kill.”

There is a theme that James summarizes: we kill as a means of control. We so desperately want our way, control of our life and circumstances, that we will mortally wound another human being to fulfill our pleasures (James 4:3).

Jesus says, “I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45).  The choice is to kill – with a look, a manipulative word, cutting sarcasm or force – to get what we want, OR surrender our desires, our “rights,” in the moment, to the eternal love of God. The former has left a trail of sin, suffering, brokenness and blood. The latter provides freedom. Jesus’ way leaves a legacy of love. Today, will you “kill” your neighbor or choose love?  

Prayer:

Father, history is full of demanding violence and death. Today, fill me afresh with Your Spirit of love and peace. Give me the grace that I may surrender to your love and trust you to provide more abundantly than I could ever ask or demand to be satisfied by in this world.

 

#21 – 40 Days of Kindness

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Read Ezekiel 37:1-14

1The LORD took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the LORD to a valley filled with bones. 2He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. 3Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”

“O Sovereign LORD,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”

4Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the LORD! 5This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! 6I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’”

7So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. 8Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.

9Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’”

10So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.

11Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ 12Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the LORD. 14I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the LORD has spoken!’”

AMAZING VITALITY

Parched and bleached by the sun, the brittle bones scattered across the valley presented a vision that summoned two words to the prophet’s mind – death and discouragement. The only thing more discouraging than the vision itself was the fact that God’s own people were represented by these dead bones. Israel was as good as dead, and their re-vitalization required God’s miraculous intervention.

Ezekiel’s vision reminds us that God is the author of life and that he alone miraculously brings vitality to us when we are dead in sin and wandering in the valley of death. We may at times wonder about friends or family we’ve prayed for over the years or situations that seem to be lifeless. We may even wonder about your church, when she seems to be struggling and not vital.

But notice v.10, as Ezekiel spoke, that is, as he trusted God and did what God called him to do, the dry bones lived. Bones came together, were wrapped by muscle and skin, and death was defeated. The bones began to thrive!

The lesson is that God is powerful and pleased to bring vitality to that which seems to be dry and lifeless. Ezekiel was unsure himself, but he trusted God and, in faith, did as God commanded. This new life is ultimately the new birth we experience in Jesus Christ, because he conquered death and rose from the grave. This vitality is promised to His Bride, the church, when we by faith trust in our Savior and follow his ways.

PRAYER:

Father, sometimes I look around and see a lot of lifeless, listless apathy, and it can be discouraging. Help me to trust in your plan, your purpose and your power to bring life and vitality to me and to your bride, and to follow you faithfully. AMEN.