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Archive for March, 2013

jesusmaryresurrection

(Happy Resurrection Day! This concludes the week long devotional blog focused on the Passion of Jesus Christ. I encourage you to read the Scripture passage first before reading the devotional blog – Doug)

Sunday (John 20)

Theme: Rocking Your World

Try to read this passage as if you were Mary Magdalene. When Jesus died, your world became dark and silent. Though your heart is still beating, you are as dead as the stone rolled across His tomb. You are numb, beyond grief and zombie-like as you go through the day’s routine.

Then you notice some things. The stone is rolled away. The grave clothes are there, but the body isn’t! You conclude, “Someone has stolen the Master’s body!” You are so freaked out, you don’t know what to do. You see a couple of people who try to help you, but you really don’t notice them. Another guy tries to help you, but you’re so focused on the missing body… that voice? Then he calls you by name, and slowly you look up and you see … Jesus!

Mary, your world has just been rocked!

Do you feel it? Whenever you really see the Risen Jesus, your world gets rocked. I’m convinced that angels didn’t move the stone in front of Jesus’ tomb. The presence of the Risen Christ caused the stone to move itself. It’s amazing what comes alive when they realize that Risen Jesus is there!

Jesus wants to rock your world. He wants to bring in life, transformation, love and redemption. He wants to take away fear and smallness of heart. Sometimes we get caught up in trying to be Christians and we forget to see Christ. Look up! See the face of Christ! Fall to your knees! Let your world be rocked!

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(This week is a special 7 day [yes – Today and Sunday, too!] blog devotional that gives perspective on Holy Week. I encourage you to read the passage listed before reading the devotional blog. – Doug)

Saturday (John 19)

Theme: Sharing in His Sufferings

Yes, Good Friday was yesterday. But let’s take another look at Jesus’ march to the cross. Human nature wants us to move on and get to the resurrection, get to the wonderful Easter story! We are uncomfortable with suffering, agony and death. But it is worth at least a second look. Maybe there is more to the cross than we realize.

Earlier Jesus told the people that in order to be his disciples they must “deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Me” (Matt 16:24). And then He did it. He denied Himself. He took up the cross. He followed the Father’s command. Note how He suffered: physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. He suffered in every way possible. But that suffering led to life and redemption.

You and I will suffer in this life. It is inevitable. Sometimes we will suffer because we choose to do what is right and good. Sometimes suffering will come to us; for no apparent reason. But God has a purpose: He wants to use that suffering to bring a greater sense of His presence, His character and love into our lives. It helps tremendously to know that our God suffered all that we go through and more. When we suffer we can have the fellowship of Jesus to carry us through.

Are you suffering? Invite Jesus into your suffering and let Him “fellowship” with you. Let Him renew your mind and transform your character. That Cross will someday become a Crown if you turn your eyes upon Him.

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(This week is a special 7 day [yes – Saturday and Sunday, too!] blog devotional that gives perspective on Holy Week. I encourage you to read the passage listed before reading the devotional blog. – Doug)

Friday (John 18:33-38)

Theme: The Tale of Two Kingdoms

The Gospel of John gives us this extraordinary dialogue between two rulers: Pilate and Jesus. In a pause before what will be excruciating suffering and death, Pilate and Jesus have a heart to heart discussion about reality, truth and Kingdoms.

Both his speech and his actions demonstrate that Jesus is living in a different realm than Pilate. While Pilate questions Jesus about being a king in the worldly sense, Jesus questions Pilate on whether he understands the heavenly kingdom. Pilate’s realm consists of power by force, fear, manipulation and death. His jurisdiction is based on geography. Jesus’ realm is much more dangerous. His power is based on truth, love, sacrifice and life. His jurisdiction is the human heart. The heavenly realm, as Jesus taught, is not about clouds, harps and angels. It is the earthly and supernatural reality lived under the reign of God. In the midst of Pilate’s worry-filled earthly realm, Jesus lives in the confidence of the Kingdom of God. Jesus does not fear death because He knows He is in the hands of the God who loves Him and is the source of life. It is out of this confidence that Jesus reaches out to Pilate: “Is that (the fact that I am King of the Godly realm) your own idea? …. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

Which Kingdom do you live for? The one ruled by fear, anxiety, self-preservation and death. Or the one ruled by the One who is truth, love, self-sacrifice and life?  Jesus invites you to His Kingdom. How can you live there more fully?

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(This week is a special 7 day [yes – Saturday and Sunday, too!] blog devotional that gives perspective on Holy Week. I encourage you to read the passage listed before reading the devotional blog – Doug)

Thursday (John 13:1-17)

Theme: An Example to Follow

The time was immanent. Jesus knew that within hours he would be hanging on a cross. He knew that this was his last opportunity to give his disciples something that would remain with them forever. What does he do? He washes their feet.

Of all the lessons Jesus wants his disciples to learn, this one is the greatest: to love one another and to express that love through service. The washing of feet was a task reserved for the lowest of servants. Today it would be like the cleaning of toilets: a pretty miserable task. But Jesus did this to demonstrate the type of love his disciples need to have toward each other.

Notice that Jesus washed all of his disciples’ feet – including Judas. The love that Jesus has goes beyond who people are and what they do. This is the type of love he expects his disciples to have.

In another story Jesus said, “He who is forgiven much, loves much.” The key to growing in our love for others is to realize how much we have been loved (and forgiven) by God. This is the love that can change your world.

Jesus invites you to grow in love and service. Do you realize how much God loves and has served you? Is it enough for you to fully love and serve others? Is there someone you would hesitate to love and serve? Why? How might God want to deal with this in your life?

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(This week is a special 7 day [yes – Saturday and Sunday, too!] blog devotional that gives perspective on Holy Week. I encourage you to read the passage listed before reading the devotional blog – Doug)

Wednesday (Mark 14:3-19)

Theme: Giving and Receiving a Beautiful Thing

It was scandalous. A woman of ill-repute enters a room and approaches Jesus as he was reclining. She breaks an alabaster jar worth several months wages. The $1,000 per ounce perfume oozes out. She scoops it up and pours it over his head, massaging it into his scalp. She starts weeping and starts to wash his feet with her tears, while constantly kissing them at the same time. What was even more scandalous was that Jesus allowed her to do these things to him! In this highly conservative, Middle Eastern culture, this public act would be considered highly offensive. Not only did it seem to contradict Jesus’ attitude towards helping the poor and denouncing excessive wealth, the woman’s intimate gesture and Jesus’ acceptance of it also raised the eyebrows of everyone in the room.

But Jesus calls her act “a beautiful thing.” It was beautiful because it was a costly gift (it was probably her wedding dowry). It was her expression of her deep gratitude and total commitment to Jesus. It was beautiful because it was given unconditionally. There were no strings attached. Once it was poured, it was gone. It was beautiful because it was given at a great risk. People could (and did) misunderstand her intentions. They condemned her for it. But it didn’t matter because it was not about them or her. It was about Jesus. And Jesus knew that. As he was about to face the most lonely path to the Cross – a path filled with denial, betrayal, insults, injustice, suffering, separation and death – Jesus welcomed this tender gesture of extravagant love. It reminded him that his task would be the most ultimate gesture of extravagant love of God to a lost world. Jesus embraced this beautiful thing. It gave him strength to do the most beautiful thing.

Jesus invites you to be a part of beautiful things. When was the last time you truly did something beautiful? Notice how some reacted to the beautiful thing: judgment, resentment even betrayal (Judas).  How do you receive beautiful things? List some beautiful things that have happened to you recently.

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Jesus_temple

(This week is a special 7 day [yes – Saturday and Sunday, too!] blog devotional that gives perspective on Holy Week. I encourage you to read the passage listed before reading the devotional blog – Doug)

Tuesday (Mark 11:15-18)

Theme: Cleansing the Temple

What do you think of Jesus’ reaction to the money changers and merchants? He was pretty mad – almost out of control. Why? Because destructive elements were allowed to corrupt something very important to him – his Father’s house.

Both the money changers and the merchants exploited people. They took advantage of people’s situations for their gain. Sometimes people were kept from worshiping God because they could not afford the usury fees. In other words, they defiled the Great Commandment (loving others and worshiping God).

Today, Jesus is still very concerned about his Father’s house. Only his Father’s house is no longer located in Jerusalem. It is in your heart, your life, your being (1 Cor. 3:16).

What destructive elements are allowed to exist in the Temple of your heart? Greed, anger, revenge, lack of mercy, gossip, strife, bitterness, and blind ambition keep you from loving others. Pride, busyness, duplicity, personal agendas and love of the world keep you from worshiping God.

Jesus invites you to ruthlessly “turn over the tables” in God’s house – your heart. With the Spirit’s help, transform your heart from a robber’s den to a place where worshiping God and loving people flows freely. List any improper attitudes and/or motives that are uncovered. Ask the Spirit for help in changing.

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(This week is a special 7 day [yes – Saturday and Sunday, too!] blog devotional that gives perspective on Holy Week. I encourage you to read the passage listed before reading the devotional blog – Doug)

Monday (Luke 19:35-42)

Theme: Dying to Great Expectations

Reflect back on Palm Sunday and put yourself in Jesus’ shoes. You are going to Jerusalem in obedience to the Father. You know that if you go there you will be giving up your life as a ransom for people’s sins. You will be brutally beaten to death. Yet, your disciples and the crowds have other expectations. They believe you will set them free, not from sin and death, but from Roman oppression. They believe that you will feed them with an unlimited supply of food, heal all their diseases and raise them from the dead. They want to crown you King, not because of who you are, but because of what they expect you to do for them. And you know that within five days, their blessings of praise to you will turn into curses of condemnation. Instead of riding on a white stallion, you ride on a borrowed colt. Instead of a crown of gold, you will receive a crown of thorns. Instead of sitting on a throne, you will be hung on a cross. The irony is so thick there is nothing you can do; nothing but weep…

Yet, you continue to Jerusalem because doing what the Father wants you to do is far more important than meeting the expectations of others.

Examine your life. Which is greater: obeying God or living according to expectations (others or your own)? Jesus invites you to join him to die to great expectations in order to live for something far greater than you can imagine. Make a list of the things He reveals to you.

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