Monthly Archives: April 2019

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday. It’s a day to reflect on the cross and the price Jesus paid for our sins. I’ve heard it explained that we owed a debt we could not pay. He paid a debt He did not owe. Because of His sacrifice, we received God’s redemption at Christ’s expense. Its important to remember that no man took Jesus’ life from Him. Out of love for us, He willingly laid it down so that you and I could spend eternity with Him. While those who watched Him die didn’t understand what He was doing, you and I have the gift of hindsight. We know that He didn’t stay on the cross, nor in the grave. He resurrected from the dead to give us new life.

The cross that took Jesus’ life that Good Friday became the symbol for our faith. It reminds us of what Jesus did and that you and I are to take ours up daily and crucify our old life to it. Through the cross, we have been made a new creation. Our old life has passed away. Our sin, the thing that separated us from God, was nailed to the cross that day. He who was sinless, took on our sin that day so that you and I could become the righteousness of God through Him. Because of that, today is a day of reverence and reflection, but also a day of thanksgiving.

Here are five Bible verses that tell the story of Good Friday.

1. When the chief priests and the Temple guards saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “You take him, then, and crucify him. I find no reason to condemn him.”

John 19:6 GNT

2. When they came to the place that is known as The Skull, the guards crucified Jesus, nailing him on the center cross between the two criminals.

Luke 23:33 TPT

3. By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.

Luke 23:44-46 NLT

4. Then the Jews, since it was the day of Sabbath preparation, and so the bodies wouldn’t stay on the crosses over the Sabbath (it was a high holy day that year), petitioned Pilate that their legs be broken to speed death, and the bodies taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man crucified with Jesus, and then the other. When they got to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. One of the soldiers stabbed him in the side with his spear. Blood and water gushed out.

John 19:31-34 MSG

5. I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

GALATIANS 2:20 AMP

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Delayed Answers

One of the most frustrating things for me is to leave on time and to arrive at work late. This recently happened several days in a row. When I turned on my app, it showed I would arrive at work 30 minutes early. As I drove, it kept rerouting me and delaying the time. It would beep and say, “Found new route. No time saved.” Then it would beep and say, “Delayed eight minutes.” I went through side streets, back roads, highways, and freeways to get to my destination. In the end, it was about 30 minutes after I was supposed to start my meeting. I came in, apologized, and delivered the content.

As I read Daniel 10, it made me think of that day in traffic. Each of us has been delayed trying to get where we are going. We’ve all tried to get somewhere important only to have to take alternate routes. It turns out, these things happen to angels too (on a whole different level of course). They have places to be and messages to give, but are delayed as well. Daniel had been fasting and praying for three weeks, but hadn’t heard from God. It turns out, the angel ran into traffic and was delayed in bringing the answer.

In verse 13, the Angel said to Daniel, “But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia” (NLT). He wasn’t delayed by 30 minutes, he was delayed three weeks! He had to fight rulers and principalities of the air in order to bring Daniel the answer he was seeking. If it happened then, it happens today.

I love what the Angel said just before that in verse 12. He said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.” It’s a great reminder that when we begin to pray, our prayers are heard in heaven immediately. Sometimes there’s traffic in delivering our answer though. We can’t give up praying because we haven’t been answered yet. There is a spiritual war raging that we don’t see, and it can cause delays. Daniel’s answer took 3 weeks of fasting and prayer. Imagine if he hadn’t been fasting or had quit praying.

Don’t quit seeking God for the answers to your prayers. We have no idea why answers don’t come as quickly as we would like. I wonder how many times I’ve blamed God for not answering my prayers, and I quit praying not knowing He had sent the answer and it got delayed. Just as God’s Angel was determined to get to Daniel with the answer, we need to be determined to keep praying and fasting until we get God’s answer. We can’t control how long it takes for the answer to arrive, but we can control how long we seek God for answers.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Surrendering Your Future

Several years ago I lost just about everything in my life that mattered to me. I went through a six month stretch where I would think I hit rock bottom, but then the bottom would fall out again. No matter what I tried, no matter what I did, I couldn’t stop the free fall. When there was nothing left, I cried out to God one night and said, “Lord, I give up! I can’t do this anymore.” Laying there on that floor, i heard God’s still, small voice whisper back, “Finally.” For Years I had been fighting what God wanted to do in my life and had been living life for myself instead of for Him. I had built the life I wanted on top of the foundation He had laid.

That night, in my mind, i saw a picture of myself curled up in the fetal position on a foundation. There was debris all around me and it was pouring down rain. I didn’t have the strength or the will to get up. I believe God was showing me my life at that moment. Everything I had built had been stripped away. When I said, “God, I’ve been left with nothing,” He relied, “You still have your foundation. If you’ll let me, I’ll build on it the life I want you to have.” I prayed, “Lord, do with my life what you want. I don’t ever want to go through that again.”

In Psalm 16:5, David prayed a similar prayer that resonates with me. He said, “You, Lord, are all I have, and you give me all I need; my future is in your hands” (GNT). You and I can spend a lifetime trying to plan our future and build the life we want, but we will never be satisfied until we give our future to God. He has a master plan for each of our lives and desires that we give Him the reigns of our future. It’s up to us to surrender our will to His. I can tell you from personal experience that the life He wants for you is far greater than anything you can imagine or build yourself.

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Trusting God’s Character

Psalm 10:1 says, “Lord, you seem so far away when evil is near! Why do you stand so far off as though you don’t care? Why have you hidden yourself when I need you the most?” (TPT) I love how honest David is with God. He says things and asks questions like this that are how we feel at times, but seem too irreverent to think or say. Every one of us have felt the same way this psalm starts off. We’ve wondered where God is and why He isn’t there to rescue us in our time of need. We’ve wondered why we feel alone when our world comes crashing down. It seems sometimes as if God doesn’t care what’s going on. That’s normal to feel that way and God is big enough to handle these tough questions.

In my life, I’ve learned to trust the character of God more than my present circumstances. Yes, they are real and they put serious pressure on me where there seems to be no way out. It’s a lot of sleepless nights and stressful days when I can’t move the mountain bearing down on me. I’ve learned though that God uses those time to produce in me things that can’t be produced any other way. One of my nephews likes to say, “No pressure, no diamond.” It’s not that God doesn’t care or that He has abandoned you. He is producing something valuable in your life in those times that He can use over and over again for the rest of your life.

My pastor recently said, “Put your trust in who God is, not in your plan for God.” You and I get disappointed when God doesn’t do what we think He should do, but if we focus on who He has always been, we’ll trust Him in hard times. That’s what David reminded himself later in Psalm 10. Verse 17 says, “Lord, you know and understand all the hopes of the humble and will hear their cries and comfort their hearts, helping them all!” God hears your silent prayers and sees your hidden tears during these times. He hasn’t abandoned you. In fact, even though you can’t see it, He’s working everything out for your good.

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Intimately Knowing God

One of the things I’ve loved since I was a kid is trivia games, especially Bible trivia. My parents couldn’t afford to send us to camp when we were young, so they took us to ever Vacation Bible School in town. I got a head full of knowledge about the Bible from all of those. When you combine that with my ability to memorize things, I won a lot of prizes when it came to Bible Trivia. The only downside to having all that knowledge is that for years, I thought I knew God because I knew a lot about Him, but knowing about someone and knowing them are two very different things.

When David was old, he was preparing to hand over the kingdom to Solomon. Like any parent, I’m sure he saw great qualities in his son. He wanted to make sure that his son didn’t just rely on who he had heard God was, but wanted him to intimately know Him the way he did. In 1 Chronicles 28, David was giving Solomon instruction for ruling, for building the Temple and for living well. In verse 9, he said, “Learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever” (NLT).

There is so much wisdom in that one verse, but I want us to simply focus on that first part today. Learn to know God intimately. It’s good to learn about Him, but it’s more important to learn to know Him intimately. Knowledge about God comes from Scripture, but knowing Him comes from spending time in prayer and being still in His presence. All of the Bible is about this one thing: God wants an intimate relationship with you and He’s willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. The problem is it takes two to have a relationship. God has done His part. Will you do yours and spend some alone time with Him today listening to His voice?

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Showing Kindness

When I was a kid I learned about the Fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5. We talked a lot about love and joy, but I think the least talked about one is kindness. We could use a lot more of that one in today’s world. We’ve become so focused on trying not to offend others that we’ve forgotten the importance of kindness. Caring for and putting the needs of others is what kindness is all about. In fact, research has found that kindness is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. I would argue that the same goes for all relationships.

The reason it’s a Fruit of the Spirit is because it’s the opposite of what our flesh wants. Naturally we are selfish people who look out for ourselves most. The Greatest Commandment is to love God and to love others as yourself. Showing kindness is one of the best ways to do this. It breaks down walls and builds bridges. It costs you nothing to be kind to someone, but yields an incredible return. Today, look for an opportunity to be kind to someone, especially someone who doesn’t deserve it. God’s love in action through you may be just what they need.

Here are some Bible verses on kindness.

1. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

Romans 12:8 NLT

2. But I say to you who hear [Me and pay attention to My words]: Love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, [make it a practice to] do good to those who hate you, bless and show kindness to those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

LUKE 6:27-28 AMP

3. If you oppress poor people, you insult the God who made them; but kindness shown to the poor is an act of worship.

Proverbs 14:31 GNT

4. A man of kindness attracts favor, while a cruel man attracts nothing but trouble.

Proverbs 11:17 TPT

5. So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

Colossians 3:12-14 MSG

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Readjusting Your Course

Every time I fly, I think about a friend of mine who is a pilot. I’ve asked him many questions about the process of flying and what it’s like to be in the cabin. I’ve even questioned him about autopilot. He told me that before a flight, he plots the course based off of information he gets from others who are flying that route. Once the plane is in the air and cruising, he turns on autopilot. I wondered if it was really that easy. He then explained that at the cruising altitude, the winds can blow us off course and he has to readjust to get the plane back on course. If he doesn’t, the plane could arrive miles from its destination.

Our walk with God is a lot like that. We love to set our lives to autopilot and think that will get us directly to Heaven, but the Christian life is more than autopilot. In order to be successful at living this life, we need to have people in our lives who are ahead of us and have walked the path we are on. We need to listen to the information they’re giving us because they’ve seen first hand where turbulence lies. It’s important to have people in our lives who can give us guidance and the information we need to make the right decisions. Proverbs 13:20 tells us that if we want to be wise, we need to be around wise people.

The next thing we have to do is be aware of how the winds of life shift us from our course. Things happen. Problems are going to arise. We need to be in a constant state of questioning if we are still on course for where God has us headed. Reevaluation is an important part of your Christian life. Asking if we are where God wants us when God wants us to be there is important. Are we still on the path that God put us on? That path is hard to see sometimes. We need to have God’s Word in our hearts. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”

Applying God’s word to your life and taking advice from others will help you to live the most impactful Christian life you can. When we know what God says in His Word, we are able to defeat temptation that would take us off course. If we do get knocked off course, it’s not the end of the world. God offers forgiveness and course corrections. He makes a way to get back to where He had us heading. Don’t quit because you’ve been blown off course. Take the advice of someone who has been blown off course and been given a path back. God will not abandon you or the plans He has for you no matter how far off course you get. There’s always a way back.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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