“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.” John 13:34
Grace and peace to you fellow sojourners! Below is an excerpt from the National Day of Prayer website describing the history of the Day of Prayer and the hope for unifying prayer that results in a transforming work of God in our hearts. This year the theme for prayer is love one another. You are invited to fast and pray this Thursday and ask the Lord to revive your and other’s hearts to His ways.
“The National Day of Prayer is a vital part of our heritage. Since the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation, the call to prayer has continued through our history, including President Lincoln’s proclamation of a day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer” in 1863. In 1952, a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Truman, declared an annual national day of prayer. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Reagan, permanently setting the day as the first Thursday of every May. Each year, the president signs a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day.” (nationaldayofprayer.org)
“Our hope is that individuals, churches, and spiritual leaders in America, will humble ourselves and unify in prevailing prayer for the next great move of God in America. We can come together in clear agreement that this is our greatest need. We can become a visible union, standing together in prayer. We can pray more than ever before, and practice extraordinary prayer for the next great move of God in America that will catapult the message of the gospel nationally and internationally.” (nationaldayofprayer.org)
In the law of Moses, love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18) assumed self-love as the starting point. A higher standard than self-love measures this new commandment to love one another. The love Christ showed His disciples was self-abandoning, self-sacrificing and to this degree, we are to love one another. When we love one another we are loving Christ; we are loving an object of His tender love.
Thank you, Lord, for leaders that desire to bring this great nation together by encouraging our humble repentance and asking for Your extraordinary mercy to heal our hearts so that we are freed to love one another sacrificially. You have shown us how to love one another by your self-abandoning, self-sacrificing love towards us. Forgive us for seeking our own interest to the detriment of someone else’s. Forgive us for not boldly living Your message and even sitting on the sidelines as if we knew not what to do. Revive our hearts and set them ablaze to your ways Lord. Amen.
Greetings fellow sojourners! Recently I found myself enthusiastically reading about the health benefits that occur in a person’s life as a result of proper teaching. The health benefit occurs when we receive the proper teaching and then align our behavior with the Truth.
Teaching that “does not agree with the sound (healthy) teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the teaching that promotes godliness,” (1 Timothy 6:3) it is not considered healthy. The Gospel message brings health to us as we live it out ~ that is exciting news! The Greek word ὑγιαίνουσιν translated “healthy” or “sound” in this verse has a practical, external aspect to it. “To be healthy,” is a medical term describing the physical effects of proper teaching. “Godliness” describes a life totally consecrated to God, with emphasis on how that consecration shows itself in the person’s life. ‘Right teaching’ and ‘right practice’ are inextricably bound together in this verse. (Word Biblical Commentary pg. 336)
Opponents of the Gospel message teaching a different doctrine, not in agreement with the sound (healthy) teaching of Jesus and not promoting godliness (1 Tim 6:3) are said to be conceited, understand nothing, and have a sick interest in disputes and arguments over words (v4). Their behavior consists of envy, quarreling, slander, evil suspicions, and constant disagreement. Their motivation is for material gain (v4-5).
Just like we choose which foods we want to put into our mouths, we also decide what information we want to put into our mind. Depriving our body of the nutrients needed for proper functioning by unhealthy eating results in health complications. The same is true when we deprive our mind of the “healthy teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It will result in confused thinking.
In verse 4, Paul says the opponents’ false teaching is foolishness and produces a “sickly craving for speculations, and they spend their time arguing over words.” In this atmosphere, envy and strife are natural results. Just as we have seen the Gospel message has health benefits, alternatively, “to have a sickly craving” means “to be sick and ailing, and it seems to refer to a serious illness. It is parallel to the medical imagery of healthy words” in v3 (WBC pg. 338).
Guard for your mind and heart, watching what you accept as truth. Acts 5 gives an example of how this plays out. Satan (1) filled Ananias’ heart to lie (v3) and (2) Ananias then allowed his mind to plan evil (v4) and as a result, death immediately came upon him (v 5). We may not see death as an immediate result in our own lives, but we should not be fooled into thinking a death does not occur. Before Jesus returns, we will find death manifesting itself in many ways (death of relationships, death of hope, death of peace, death of understanding, death of love). Do not be fooled, death comes. Let’s receive God’s healthy teaching that promotes godliness and live.
Greetings fellow sojourners! As we approach Holy Week, let’s behold the days in the life of Jesus and the disciples by contemplating the significance of each day leading up to and including the Resurrection. Perhaps you would like to print each day of the week and post it in a visible place in your home as you consider the day’s events and their spiritual significance in your life. Let’s ask the Lord to tender our hearts to everything that transpired and let’s be eager to learn what He shows us. I encourage you to read the events for yourself as you will find more details that will bless you.
Jesus began his trip to Jerusalem. Nearing the village of Bethphage, he sent two of his disciples ahead, telling them to look for a donkey and bring it to him. Then Jesus sat on the young donkey and slowly, humbly, made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, fulfilling the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9. “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
The crowds welcomed him by waving palm branches in the air and shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
On Palm Sunday, Jesus and his disciples spent the night in Bethany where Lazarus and his two sisters Mary and Martha lived. Perhaps they hosted him and his disciples.
Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:12-19
Jesus returned with his disciples to Jerusalem. Along the way, he cursed a fig tree because it had failed to bear fruit. This symbolism extends to all believers, demonstrating that genuine faith is more than just outward religion but true living faith must bear spiritual fruit in a person’s life.
When Jesus arrived at the Temple he found the courts full of corrupt money changers. He declared, “My Temple will be a house of prayer, but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” (Luke 19:46) What is the condition of your “temple?”
That night he probably stayed in Bethany again.
Matthew 21:12-22, Mark 11:12-19, Luke 19:45-48, John 2:13-25
Jesus returned with his disciples to Jerusalem. They passed the withered fig tree on their way, and Jesus spoke to his companions about the importance of faith.
Back at the Temple, religious leaders were upset at Jesus for establishing himself as a spiritual authority. They attempted to arrest him but Jesus evaded their traps. He addressed the scribes and Pharisees seven times with, “Woe to you” before He identified each sin. “Blind guides!…For you are like whitewashed tombs – beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness…Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell?” Matthew 23:24-33
Later that afternoon, Jesus left the city and went with his disciples to the Mount of Olives. He gave his Olivet Discourse, an elaborate prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the age. Jesus again uses symbolic examples regarding end time events, his Second Coming, and the final judgment.
This is the day Judas Iscariot negotiated with the Sanhedrin, the rabbinical court, to betray Jesus. Matthew 26:14-16
Jesus and his disciples probably returned to Bethany to stay the night.
Matthew 21:23-26:5, Mark 11:20-13:37, Luke 20:1-21:36, John 12:20-43
Scholars speculate that Jesus spent this day resting in Bethany in anticipation of Passover. A few nights earlier, Lazarus’ sister Mary had lovingly anointed the feet of Jesus with pure and expensive fragrant oil. By pouring the fragrant oil on His body, she prepared Him for burial, and Jesus said it was beautiful.
Matthew 26:6-16, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:1-7
From Bethany, Jesus sent Peter and John ahead to the Upper Room in Jerusalem to make the preparations for the Passover Feast. Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” Luke 22:15-16
As the Lamb of God, Jesus was about to fulfill the meaning of Passover by giving his body to be broken and his blood to be shed in sacrifice, freeing us from sin and death. Jesus established the Lord’s Supper (Communion), instructing his followers to continually remember his sacrifice by sharing in the elements of bread and wine. Luke 22:19-20
That evening after sunset, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as they prepared to share in the Passover. Jesus demonstrated by this humble act how believers should love one another.
Later, Jesus and the disciples left the Upper Room and went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where He prayed in agony to God. Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him and asked them to stay awake and pray so that they would not enter into temptation. Are you ‘awake?’
Jesus was betrayed in the Garden with a kiss by Judas Iscariot and arrested by the Sanhedrin. He was taken to the home of Caiaphas, the High Priest, where the whole council had gathered to begin making their case against Him.
In the early morning hours, as Jesus’ trial was getting underway, Peter denied knowing Him three times before the rooster crowed.
Matthew 26:17-75, Mark 14:12-72, Luke 22:7-62, John 13:1-38
Judas Iscariot was overcome with remorse and hanged himself Friday morning.
Before 9 am, Jesus endured the shame of false accusations, condemnation, mockery, beatings, and abandonment. After multiple unlawful trials, he was sentenced to death by crucifixion. Before Christ was led away, soldiers spit on him, tormented and mocked him, and pierced him with a crown of thorns. Jesus then carried his own cross to Calvary where he was mocked and insulted as Roman soldiers nailed him to the wooden cross.
Jesus spoke these statements while on the Cross:
~ Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. Luke 23:34
~ He said to one of the criminals next to him, I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise. Luke 23:43
~ About 3 in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46
~ Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit. Luke 23:46
About 3 pm, Jesus breathed his last breath and died.
By 6 pm Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus’ body down from the cross and lay it in a tomb.
Matthew 27:1-62, Mark 15:1-47, Luke 22:63-23:56, John 18:28-19:37
Jesus’ body lay in the tomb, where it was guarded by Roman soldiers throughout the day on Saturday, which was the Sabbath. When Sabbath ended at 6pm, Christ’s body was ceremonially treated for burial with spices purchased by Nicodemus. “He bought about seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes. Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth.” John 19:39-40
Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were members of the Sanhedrin, the court that had condemned Jesus Christ to death. For a time, both men had lived as secret followers of Jesus, afraid to make a public profession of faith because of their prominent positions. Because they were both deeply affected by Christ’s death, they boldly came out of hiding, willing to risk their reputations and lives because they knew he was Messiah. Together they cared for Jesus’ body and prepared it for burial.
Jesus Christ paid the penalty for sin by offering the perfect, spotless sacrifice. He conquered death, both spiritually and physically, securing our eternal salvation. “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold and silver. He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” 1 Peter 1:18-19
Matthew 27:62-66, Mark 16:1, Luke 23:56, John 19:40-42
Early Sunday morning, several women (Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Salome, and Mary the mother of James) went to the tomb and discovered that the large stone covering the entrance had been rolled away. An angel announced: “Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.” Matthew 28:5-6
On the day of his resurrection, Jesus Christ made several appearances. The first person to see him was Mary Magdalen. Jesus also appeared to Peter, to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and later that day to all the disciples except Thomas, while they were gathered in a house for prayer.
“Peace to you!”
Matthew 28:1-13, Mark 16:1-14, Luke 24:1-49, John 20:1-23
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, and you know that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God, and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:14-17
Greetings fellow sojourners!
I heard it said once that your love for Jesus would be demonstrated by how much you love the Word as Jesus Himself is the Word made flesh (John 1:14). How much you love the Word may be evaluated by how much time you speed reading the Book and how much of your life responds to it.
Timothy’s mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois had sincere faith and according to Paul, they passed down their faith to Timothy (1 Timothy 1:5). He credits these faithful women with carefully teaching Timothy Scripture and doctrine (1 Timothy 3:14-15) which lead to his conversion. They desired to study, understand, and apply Scripture to their life which enabled them to be impactful in their sphere of influence.
Paul states that “All Scripture is inspired by God, and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, and for training in righteousness” and he expresses this while crediting Eunice and Lois with the outstanding job of equipping Timothy. Motivated by the love of the Word, these women taught Timothy Truth regarding the entire Word and were not influenced by a self-seeking heart. Therefore, their actions had a significant impact on Timothy and Paul.
We were created to be an influence for Christ and we do that when our lives display Christian living in response to the gospel. Thank you, Lord, for the example of high regard and love for the Word given by Eunice and Lois. You have given me the ability to be profoundly influential and I desire to correctly handle the Scriptures in order to make a significant impact for Christ in the generation You have placed me. Thank you for Your Word and the examples of godly lives.
There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven: a time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing; a time to search and a time to count as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to tear and a time to sew; a time to be silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Greetings fellow sojourners!
God is Creator and, therefore, the owner of time and seasons. We must pass through all experiences as ordained by God when the time comes for us to do so. There is nothing that can be done to stop life from changing so it will profit us to learn how to welcome change in our heart. For example, we are unable to prevent a child from growing up, halt the aging in a loved one, stop the trees from losing their leaves or impede the sun from setting. God created these things, and therefore we must learn to greet them with joy and praise God for His goodness in everything.
One way we can welcome change is by asking God to increase our faith and bless Him for any route in which He chooses to take us. We will find our faith requires we conform to God’s nature; loving what He loves and hating what He hates (Zechariah 8:17). Since God created time and change accompanies time, as long as we live in time we will experience constant change. To the extent we permit ourselves to dread or grow weary of transitions then it will be to that extent that we will be out of step with what God has designed to occur while in time.
Fear can be a giant obstacle to welcoming change. Perhaps instead of clinging to the One who created all things we instead have exchanged the truth for a lie and agreed to cling instead to created things. In doing so, we are in effect saying the object we are clinging to (person or thing) has a greater capacity to meet our deep needs than the One who created us. God, Himself has set eternity in our hearts; therefore the deep eternal things our soul craves was designed to be satisfied only by the deep and imperishable things of Him and not the shallow, temporary things inherent in creation. When we allow the fear of uncertainty to invade our heart, we become more concerned about what other people are doing and the effect it will have on us instead of trusting God’s absolute sovereignty.
For example, when Peter saw John, he said to Jesus, “Lord — what about him?” Jesus responded, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? As for you, follow Me.” (John 21:21-22) God has a plan for each one of our lives and a season for it to transpire. What if alternatively, we removed our questioning and replaced it with a daily focus on what God desires to change in US and how we can help others reach their best IN the Lord?
While we live our lives in time, let’s welcome the different seasons’ life presents knowing God created them. Be encouraged knowing that although things change in time, God, because He is outside of time and is eternal, does not change. Lord, allow us to learn quickly and not set our hearts on created things for not only will they change but they are imperfect. You, Lord, are the only perfect thing we will ever experience and You never change. Help me to live closer to You and not desire the temporary benefits of this world over Your eternal riches of heaven, amen.