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HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

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Post  Admin on Mon 02 Jun 2014, 8:17 pm

"The Hebrew Scriptures" — A Year with Jesus for 06/02/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

In today's verses, I am in the final preparation stages of leaving My disciples and ascending back to the Father. While the promised Helper, the Holy Spirit, will come to them on the day of Pentecost, I wanted to open their minds and help them see that many passages in the Hebrew Scriptures — what you call the Old Testament — pointed to My birth, life, death, and resurrection. As I journey with you through the New Testament the rest of this year, you will find many different passages from the Hebrew Scriptures that are quoted, referenced, or reflected in the different writings that make up the New Testament.

One of the responsibilities of the prophets in the early church was to help explain how these Hebrew Scriptures pointed to Me. Matthew takes a special interest in pointing out how My ministry fulfilled these Scriptures. The early sermons in the book of Acts by Peter, Stephen, and Paul use these Hebrew Scriptures to affirm My identity as the Anointed One of Israel — the Christ, the Messiah.

The Helper — the Holy Spirit I promised to send to My disciples — helped these early witnesses speak My message and remember My words and deeds. Yet this precious time I had with My closest disciples before My ascension was crucial in beginning the process of connecting My story to the grand story of Scripture. What happens is all part of Our — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit's — plan to redeem your lost world.

When you look at your Bible, I want you to know that this is all part of My story. I was there as Creator at the beginning. I was promised as a Savior after the terrible rebellion in the garden when Adam and Eve rejected the Father's gracious gifts and chose to live their own way. I was there leading My people through the parted waters of the sea delivering them from Pharaoh's hand. I was there in the pillar of fire and the cloud that led My people through their wilderness wanderings. I was there when the promise was made to Abraham and to David of a descendant that would bless all nations and reign as Lord and King forever. I was there when the prophets spoke of My coming. I was there all through the journey, but I became flesh and was born to Mary and placed in a manger in fulfillment of the expectations and prophecies about My coming.

Because I was there all along, I want you to remember what Paul told Timothy about the Hebrew Scriptures — notice especially the underlined part — and realize that I can open up the power of the Hebrew Scriptures to you and help you find life and salvation in them:
So surely you ought to stick to what you know is certain. All you have learned comes from people you know and trust because since childhood you have known the holy Scriptures, which enable you to be wise and lead to salvation through faith in Jesus the Anointed. All of Scripture is God-breathed; in its inspired voice, we hear useful teaching, rebuke, correction, instruction, and training for a life that is right so that God’s people may be up to the task ahead and have all they need to accomplish every good work.

(2 Timothy 3:14-17)


Verses to Live

The Hebrew Scriptures lead you to Me. Your faith in Me helps you understand those ancient words and brings you the salvation the Scriptures anticipate and declare.

Jesus:
I've been telling you this all along, that everything written about Me in the Hebrew Scriptures must be fulfilled — everything from the law of Moses to the prophets to the psalms.

Then He opens their minds so they can comprehend the meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Jesus:
This is what the Scriptures said: that the promised Anointed One should suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, that in His name a radical change of thought and life should be preached, and that in His name the forgiveness of sins should be preached, beginning in Jerusalem and extending to all nations. You have witnessed the fulfillment of these things. So I am sending My Father's promise to you. Stay in the city until you receive it — until power from heaven comes upon you.

(Luke 24:44-49)

Response in Prayer

Almighty God, I thank You for Your work in creation through the ages. I thank You for working for my salvation and redemption and promising Jesus, my Lord and Messiah, long before He came to earth. I thank You for His story, which is now my story and my salvation. In Jesus' name I thank You. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Sun 01 Jun 2014, 7:56 pm

"Jesus' Prayer" — A Year with Jesus for 06/01/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Follower,

The verses you will read today come from a very emotional time on the night I was betrayed. This is My prayer for My disciples. I want you to notice five things I speak to the Father — five important truths and areas of importance to Me.

First, I spoke to the Father about our glory. I looked forward to the day when My disciples fully experience this "collective glory" which the Father and I had together "before the creation existed" and which speaks of the love We shared long "before the foundations of the cosmos were laid." I began and ended My prayer with these thoughts.

Second, I prayed for unity. I prayed for My earliest disciples to be one. I wanted this to be more than just the unity of easy times and pleasant talk: I wanted this unity to be as real as the unity the Father and I share. My first disciples had great opportunities and faced harsh resistance and vicious persecution. They needed to be one just as I the Father and I are.

Third, I prayed for you. Yes, you! I prayed for those who would believe in Me because of the apostles' testimony. I want you to be one in unity. This is not just because I want you to get along with each other, but also because I want the world to believe in Me and that the Father sent Me. Your unity should reflect Our unity to the world.

Fourth, being one, having genuine unity, is really a reflection of love. I had told My disciples that the defining characteristic showing they are My disciples is their love for each other (John 13:34-35). This genuine love, love like the Father and I have for each other, is the foretaste of the grace, joy, life, and glory that the Father and I long to share with you in Our home. The Helper, the Holy Spirit, that I have given you fills you with this love and all its attendant graces (Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:22-23).

Finally, I want you to notice that My p! rayer as I faced My crucifixion was not for Me. I would pray later in the garden from the depths of My heart to the Father about what I faced. However, this prayer was for My disciples in every age — for the apostles and first disciples who would take My love and My message to the world and for you who are recipients of that message centuries later. Never for one moment think My heart is not concerned for you and your part in My family and how My family will impact the world.
Verses to Live

I want you to read this prayer several times. Listen below the words and between the lines. Feel the depth of My love for the Father and for you. Recognize that there is so much going on in these words that is bigger than just the words themselves. These words share My heart about eternity, glory, love, and family and you are an important part of each of these!

Jesus (lifting His face to the heavens):
Father, My time has come. Glorify Your Son, and I will bring You great glory because You have given Me total authority over humanity. I have come bearing the plentiful gifts of God; and all who receive Me will experience everlasting life, a new intimate relationship with You (the one True God) and Jesus the Anointed (the One You have sent). I have glorified You on earth and fulfilled the mission You set before Me.

In this moment, Father, fuse Our collective glory and bring Us together as We were before creation existed. You have entrusted Me with these men who have come out of this corrupt world order. I have told them about Your nature and declared Your name to them, and they have held on to Your words and understood that these words, like everything else You have given Me, come from You. It is true that these men You gave Me have received the words that come from You and not only understood them but also believed that You sent Me. I am now making an appeal to You on their behalf. This request is not for the entire world; it is for those whom You have given to Me because they are Yours. Yours and Mine, Mine and Yours, for all that are Mine are Yours. Through them I have been glorified.

I will no longer be physically present in this world, but they will remain in this world. As I return to be with You, holy Father, remain with them through Your name, the name You have given Me. May they be one even as We are one. While I was physically present with them, I protected them through Your name. I watched over them closely; and only one was lost, the one the Scriptures said was the son of destruction. Now I am returning to You. I am speaking this prayer here in the created cosmos alongside friends and foes so that in hearing it they might be consumed with joy. I have given them Your word; and the world has despised them because they are not products of the world, in the same way that I am not a product of the corrupt world order. Do not take them out of this world; protect them from the evil one.

Like Me, they are not products of the corrupt world order. Immerse them in the truth, the truth Your voice speaks. In the same way You sent Me into this world, I am sending them. It is entirely for their benefit that I have set Myself apart so that they may be set apart by truth.

I am not asking solely for their benefit; this prayer is also for all the believers who will follow them and hear them speak. Father, may they all be one as You are in Me and I am in You; may they be in Us, for by this unity the world will believe that You sent Me.

All the glory You have given to Me, I pass on to them. May that glory unify them and make them one as We are one, I in them and You in Me, that they may be refined so that all will know that You sent Me, and You love them in the same way You love Me.

Father, I long for the time when those You have given Me can join Me in My place so they may witness My glory, which comes from You. You have loved Me before the foundations of the cosmos were laid. Father, You are just; though this corrupt world order does not know You, I do. These followers know that You have sent Me. I have told them about Your nature; and I will continue to speak of Your name in order that Your love, which was poured out on Me, will be in them. And I will also be in them.

(John 17:1-26)

Response in Prayer

I am dumbfounded, Father, at the words, the love, the passion, and the prayer of Jesus. I ask the Holy Spirit to imprint their emotion and their power on my heart and use them to mold me into a better disciple and friend and influence. O God, be glorified in my life — in my words, my thoughts, my intentions, and my actions. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Sat 31 May 2014, 10:08 pm

"Sending the Great Helper" — A Year with Jesus for 05/31/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

My ascension back to the Father was a wonderful blessing. I know that you would love to have My physical presence with you — to see Me minister, heal, cast out demons, teach, and preach. That was also true of the eleven apostles and My closest disciples that I left behind as I ascended to the Father.
But the truth is that My departure will be a gift that will serve you well, because if I don't leave, the great Helper will not come to your aid. When I leave, I will send Him to you.
Without My ascension, My departure, the Holy Spirit wouldn't have come to their aid, nor would the Helper be available to aid you.

My ascension, My departure, meant that I would send the Holy Spirit to be My people's Helper — your Helper. The Spirit helps My disciples point others to the truth about Me. The Helper gives My followers strength to face their trials. The Helper works through My friends when they proclaim Me. The Helper convicts lost people of their sin, of their need for righteousness, and of their need to change because the world they trust, along with the powers of evil behind it, have already been defeated. The Helper guides My beloved disciples into the truth about Me.

In a few days, I will begin sharing the book of Acts with you. In the opening verses of Acts, I ascended back to the Father after commissioning My disciples to share My story and My grace with the whole world (Acts 1:1-11). I told them to wait in Jerusalem for the coming of the Helper, the Holy Spirit, before beginning their mission. The Spirit's coming on the day of Pentecost ignited them on their mission with power. All that I promised them about the Helper came true as they lived out this mission. This little band of believers, propelled by the power and presence of the Helper, changed the world — the whole fabric of human history. The Helper I have sent to you longs to do the same, through you, in your day!

Verses to Live

Just as those early disciples changed the world, I am calling on you to rely on this same Helper to empower, to strengthen, to inform, to guide, and to propel you to change your world. The last words in today's verses remind you that I am confident in the Helper's power to do this:
The Spirit has unlimited access to Me, to all that I possess and know, just as everything the Father has is Mine. That is the reason I am confident He will care for My own and reveal the path to you.
This same Holy Spirit is at work in you because I have ascended to the Father and sent the Helper to you!
Jesus:
I will send a great Helper to you from the Father, one known as the Spirit of truth. He comes from the Father and will point to the truth as it concerns Me. But you will also point others to the truth about My identity, because you have journeyed with Me since this all began.

(John 15:26-27)

Jesus:
I am telling you all of this so that you may avoid the offenses that are coming. The time will come when they will kick you out of the synagogue because some believe God desires them to execute you as an act of faithful service. They will do this because they don't know the Father, or else they would know Me. I'm telling you all this so that when it comes to pass you will remember what you have heard. It was not important for Me to give you this information in the beginning when I was with you. But now, I am going to the One who has sent Me, and none of you ask Me, "Where are You going?"

I know that hearing news like this is overwhelming and sad. But the truth is that My departure will be a gift that will serve you well, because if I don't leave, the great Helper will not come to your aid. When I leave, I will send Him to you. When He arrives, He will uncover the sins of the world, expose unbelief as sin, and allow all to see their sins in the light of righteousness for the first time. This new awareness of righteousness is important because I am going to the Father and will no longer be present with you. The Spirit will also carry My judgment because the one who rules in this world has already been defeated.

I have so much more to say, but you cannot absorb it right now. The Spirit of truth will come and guide you in all truth. He will not speak His own words to you; He will speak what He hears, revealing to you the things to come and bringing glory to Me. The Spirit has unlimited access to Me, to all that I possess and know, just as everything the Father has is Mine. That is the reason I am confident He will care for My own and reveal the path to you.

(John 16:1-15)

Response in Prayer

O Father, I take seriously Jesus' commission to reach the world with Your grace and with the good news about Jesus. I trust that the Helper Jesus promised is alive in me and will help me, and help us as your disciples, share You with the world. I thank you for the Spirit's presence within me. Please open my eyes to the work of the Spirit within me and within your people. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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Post  Admin on Fri 30 May 2014, 10:25 pm

"Despised?" — A Year with Jesus for 05/30/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

All throughout My earthly ministry, I warned My disciples that following Me would not be easy. The words you read in the verses below were spoken right before My own rejection, betrayal, arrest, torture, crucifixion, and death. My warnings sounded ominous to those disciples gathered around Me on the night of My betrayal. Yet these words took on a much greater sense of foreboding after My crucifixion:
"If you find that the world despises you, remember that before it despised you, it first despised Me. .. If I was mistreated, you should expect nothing less."
The beloved disciple remembered these words of warning and reiterated them decades later: "Brothers and sisters, don’t be shocked if the corrupt world despises you" (1 John 3:13). Persecution has been and will continue to be very much a part of being My disciple (2 Timothy 3:12). When your Hero is the crucified Messiah, then you should expect to face some pretty stout challenges yourself.

In the first part of the verses for today, I was telling My disciples the reasons that they would face persecution. Persecution and loss of rights for My disciples are becoming more and more prevalent in your world, too. Yet you need to know that you are not alone as you face trials, ostracism, distrust, false accusations, and persecution. I AM with you!

Notice that My promise to be with you through the "Helper", the Holy Spirit, follows immediately after this very honest acknowledgement of the hardships. These words of warning come between My teaching on the Helper, the Holy Spirit that I send to My disciples. The work of the Holy Spirit is to be with you, to be My presence in you, and to give you peace. The Spirit is also your Helper and Advocate. Even in the worst of situations, the Holy Spirit will give you the right words to say when you are under trial (Luke 12:11-12). Even if all others seem to abandon you in your hour of need, I will never abandon you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5-6). You may face difficult times, but you will never have to face them alone!

Verses to Live

Please remember that I have called you to be different from the world. I have called you to be salt and light in the world of decay and darkness. You are not "of the world", so the world won't accept you. Yet be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world and My glorious future is also your future glory!
Jesus:
If you find that the world despises you, remember that before it despised you, it first despised Me. If you were a product of the world order, then it would love you. But you are not a product of the world because I have taken you out of it, and it despises you for that very reason. Don't forget what I have spoken to you: "a servant is not greater than the master." If I was mistreated, you should expect nothing less. If they accepted what I have spoken, they will also hear you. Everything they do to you they will do on My account because they do not know the One who has sent Me. If I had not spoken within their hearing, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for ignoring My voice.

If someone despises Me, he also despises My Father. If I had not demonstrated things for them that have never been done, they would not be guilty of sin. But the reality is they have stared Me in the face, and they have despised Me and the Father nonetheless. Yet their law, which says, "They despised Me without any cause," has again been proven true.

I will send a great Helper to you from the Father, one known as the Spirit of truth. He comes from the Father and will point to the truth as it concerns Me. But you will also point others to the truth about My identity, because you have journeyed with Me since this all began.

(John 15:18-27)

Response in Prayer

Father of mercy and God of all grace, there are times when I feel like I am swimming upstream against the current of popular opinion because I follow Jesus. Forgive me, dear Father, for being weak at times. Remind me of Your abiding presence within me through the Holy Spirit. Give me words to say to those who doubt or disbelieve You. Give me wisdom to know how and when to share my faith in Jesus with others. Bless me with courage when I feel alone and with confidence to remember Jesus' promise of the Holy Spirit's presence and help in my time of need. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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Post  Admin on Thu 29 May 2014, 4:31 pm

"Let's Stay Connected!" — A Year with Jesus for 05/29/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

In yesterday's note I reminded you of the promise that when I ascended to the Father, I would send the Spirit — also called the "Helper" — to My closest disciples and that I would pour the Spirit out on you when you came to Me in baptism. The Spirit's presence is your assurance that We — Father, Son, and Spirit — make our home in you and We will never leave or forsake you.

A house can have many power outlets, but the electric devices and appliances won't work unless those devices are connected to the power source. The same is true with the work of the Spirit in your life. I emphasized that your part of this process is to love Me and obey what I call you to do:
The one who loves Me will do the things I have commanded. My Father loves everyone who loves Me; and I will love you and reveal My heart, will, and nature to you.

(John 14:21)
Your obedience, your commitment to abide in Me and live for Me, connects you to that power source found in the Helper's presence.

Today's verses that you find below remind you to stay connected to Me. Our relationship is organic and relational, not mechanical or just organizational. You abide in Me, you remain connected to Me — you connect to the power source of the Holy Spirit, the Helper I've sent to you — when you choose to love. I am your Vine. You are My branch. There is no source of true life for the branch unless it remains connected to the vine and there is no everlasting source of life in you unless you remain connected to Me!

In My earthly ministry, I taught the importance of love being the guiding star in your life as you seek to live for Me:
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, a group of Pharisees met to consider new questions that might trip up Jesus. A legal expert thought of one that would certainly stump Him.

Pharisees:
Teacher, of all the laws, which commandment is the greatest?

Jesus (quoting Scripture):
"Love the Eternal One your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is nearly as important, "Love your neighbor as yourself." The rest of the law, and all the teachings of the prophets, are but variations on these themes.
(Matthew 22:34-40)

You remain connected to Me when you love Us — Father, Son, and Spirit — with all your heart, soul, and mind and when you share that love with others. When you share love, you live in My love as well as share My love with those who need it. The Spirit within you will be your source of a never-ending supply of this love (Romans 5:5).

So stay connected by loving and by living in My love. Keep the love flowing!
Verses to Live

The image of the vine and branches is a powerful one that illustrates a spiritual truth you must not neglect: you must remain connected to Me!
Jesus:
I am the true vine, and My Father is the keeper of the vineyard. My Father examines every branch in Me and cuts away those who do not bear fruit. He leaves those bearing fruit and carefully prunes them so that they will bear more fruit; already you are clean because you have heard My voice. Abide in Me, and I will abide in you. A branch cannot bear fruit if it is disconnected from the vine, and neither will you if you are not connected to Me.

I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you abide in Me and I in you, you will bear great fruit. Without Me, you will accomplish nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is like a branch that is tossed out and shrivels up and is later gathered to be tossed into the fire to burn. If you abide in Me and My voice abides in you, anything you ask will come to pass for you. Your abundant growth and your faithfulness as My followers will bring glory to the Father.

Jesus:
I have loved you as the Father has loved Me. Abide in My love. Follow My example in obeying the Father's commandments and receiving His love. If you obey My commandments, you will stay in My love. I want you to know the delight I experience, to find ultimate satisfaction, which is why I am telling you all of this.

My commandment to you is this: love others as I have loved you. There is no greater way to love than to give your life for your friends. You celebrate our friendship if you obey this command. I don't call you servants any longer; servants don't know what the master is doing, but I have told you everything the Father has said to Me. I call you friends. You did not choose Me. I chose you, and I orchestrated all of this so that you would be sent out and bear great and perpetual fruit. As you do this, anything you ask the Father in My name will be done. This is My command to you: love one another.

(John 15:1-17)


Response in Prayer

O God, please move through the Holy Spirit within me and help me love others more completely, more consistently, until my love fully reflects and embodies the righteous character and gracious compassion of Your love. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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Post  Admin on Wed 28 May 2014, 1:47 pm

"I Will Be with You!" — A Year with Jesus for 05/28/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

My return to the Father was important for many reasons. Yet for My apostles, the experience of losing Me was terrifying — they hid in an upper room behind a locked door not knowing what to do after My crucifixion. After I left them to return to the Father, they remembered that I had told them that I was going back to the Father. This "leaving" would have been very troubling to them if they had not had the promises you read in the verses below.

My return to the Father would not mean that I had left them: I would continue to live in them, be with them, and My life and words would be remembered by them because I would send them the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Greek word John used to speak about "the Spirit of truth" was paraklaetos — translated as "Helper," "Comforter," "Counselor," and "Advocate." The presence of the Helper would ensure that they would not be left alone to do the work I was about to call them to do. They would never face the opportunities and trials of discipleship alone. The Spirit, the Helper, ensured the presence of the Father along with My presence. Our presence would bring them peace — My peace, not peace like the world gives, but everlasting and life-altering peace.

My promise began with My promise to bring My disciples home to Me (John 14:1-3 — see yesterday's note from Jesus). Today, however, I assure them that they will not have to wait till they come to Us to make Our home with them; because they would obey and live for Us, we would choose to make Our home with them.

Now here is a great thing about these promises to My earliest disciples: these promises are for you, too! Look at My promise. Each word is chosen carefully so that you could know that you were included:
Anyone who loves Me will listen to My voice and obey. The Father will love him, and We will draw close to him and make a dwelling place within him.
That means the following promises are your promises as well:

I will ask the Father to send you another Helper, the Spirit of truth, who will remain constantly with you.

I will never abandon you like orphans; I will return to be with you.

Because I live, you will also live.

My Father loves everyone who loves Me; and I will love you and reveal My heart, will, and nature to you.

The Father will love him, and We will draw close to him and make a dwelling place within him.

The Father is sending a great Helper, the Holy Spirit, in My name to teach you everything and to remind you of all I have said to you.

My peace is the legacy I leave to you.

I will go away, but I will also return to be with you.

So I hope you can see that My physical absence is not! a disadvantage for you, just as it was not a disadvantage for them. On Pentecost I poured out the Holy Spirit on them to do My work and bring My presence to them (Acts 2:2-4; Acts 2:33). At your baptism, I poured out this same Holy Spirit on you (Titus 3:3-7). These promises are for you.

I encourage you to learn all you can about the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, that I have sent to live in you and be My presence with you. And today, I want you to rest assured in the peace of God that passes all understanding that you will never be alone. We — Father, Son, and Spirit — have made our home in you until you can come home to Us and share Our home with Us! This assurance should bring you everlasting peace.

If you would like to learn more about the Holy Spirit through a short daily devotional on the Spirit's work, check our SpiritFire — you can subscribe and receive SpiritFire free in your inbox every day.
Verses to Live

Be blessed by these promises about the Spirit, the Helper that I have sent to you. Remember, these words are not just to the apostles who first heard them, but also to anyone who is truly My disciple. May these words bring you peace.
Jesus:
If you love Me, obey the commandments I have given you. I will ask the Father to send you another Helper, the Spirit of truth, who will remain constantly with you. The world does not recognize the Spirit of truth, because it does not know the Spirit and is unable to receive Him. But you do know the Spirit because He lives with you, and He will dwell in you. I will never abandon you like orphans; I will return to be with you. In a little while, the world will not see Me; but I will not vanish completely from your sight. Because I live, you will also live. At that time, you will know that I am in the Father, you are in Me, and I am in you. The one who loves Me will do the things I have commanded. My Father loves everyone who loves Me; and I will love you and reveal My heart, will, and nature to you.

The Other Judas:
Lord, why will You reveal Yourself to us, but not to the world?

Jesus:
Anyone who loves Me will listen to My voice and obey. The Father will love him, and We will draw close to him and make a dwelling place within him. The one who does not love Me ignores My message, which is not from Me, but from the Father who sent Me.

I have spoken these words while I am here with you. The Father is sending a great Helper, the Holy Spirit, in My name to teach you everything and to remind you of all I have said to you. My peace is the legacy I leave to you. I don’t give gifts like those of this world. Do not let your heart be troubled or fearful. You were listening when I said, "I will go away, but I will also return to be with you." If you love Me, celebrate the fact that I am going to be with the Father because He is far greater than I am. I have told you all these things in advance so that your faith will grow as these things come to pass. I am almost finished speaking to you. The one who rules the world is stepping forward, and he has no part in Me; but to demonstrate to the cosmos My love for the Father, I will do just as He commands. Stand up. It is time for us to leave this place.

(John 14:15-31)

Response in Prayer

Father in heaven, thank you for Jesus — thank you for His death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and pouring out the Holy Spirit into My heart and the hearts of all who love Him and obey Him. Teach me, please, O God, to recognize the work of the Spirit in My life and to rest in the assurance that You will never leave Me or forsake Me. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Tue 27 May 2014, 12:21 pm

The Third Time" — A Year with Jesus for 05/26/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

The last few days I've visited with you about Peter's restoration and several important principles regarding confession, forgiveness, grace, cleansing, and restoration. In today's verses, you get to read about the time I lovingly confronted Peter about his bold claims about not failing Me even if the other apostles did and his subsequent denial of Me on the night Judas betrayed Me. On Peter's third denial, the rooster crowed, he realized his failure, and went out and wept bitterly (Luke 22:59-62).

The verses below continue the account of My third appearance to the apostles. Peter was hurt when I asked him a third time if he loved Me. Don't miss the symmetry — third denial, third appearance, third time I asked the question. This is no mere coincidence. This is the delicate art of loving confrontation — the parallels involving the "third" time things, the careful wording, the loving but clear confrontation of Peter about his bold claims about being faithful when I washed his feet (John 13:1-38).

I asked Peter three times about his love for Me. On that third time, let's just say figuratively that he heard that rooster crow once again. Three denials. Three times I asked on our third visit after the resurrection about his three denials. Peter and everyone else around the fire with Me got the point.

In addition, I made clear to Peter in front of the other disciples that I was calling him back to ministry:
"Take care of My lambs. .. Shepherd My sheep. .. Look after My sheep."
With every question about his love for Me, Peter also received an affirmation of My call for him to be a pastor — the word pastor means to be a shepherd of people. For those keeping up with each of the "thirds" let's go over them:
Peter heard the rooster crow on his third denial.
This is My third visit with the disciples after My resurrection.
Peter was hurt when I asked him if he loved Me the third time.
Peter heard My call for him to be a shepherd of My sheep a third time.
Why was this loving, yet clear, confrontation so important? Because his fellow apostles knew about Peter's denials. Peter needed to be reclaimed and restored to leadership. He never would have been if he hadn't been lovingly confronted about his failure and if he hadn't received My call in front of those he disappointed — a call for him to come back to leadership.

I let him know serving Me as a leader wouldn't be easy, but that is what I was calling him to do. Sooner or later he was going to follow Me into a death like I endured — a martyr headed to a cross. He would follow Me. He would reach out to people as a shepherd. He would be a great leader among My people. He would give his life in the process. In the end, he would live up to the brash promises he had made on the night he denied even knowing Me... but only after being humbled, lovingly confronted, and called back into ministry. That is what it means to be forgiven, cleansed, reclaimed, and restored!

One last time, you see Peter being Peter. He wanted to know what was going to happen to the beloved disciple. It was like he was saying, "OK Lord, I know I'm going to die for you, but what about him?" Before Peter could go very far down that road of comparison of worth, value, and life span, I reminded him of the only issue that mattered: "What difference will this make to you? You follow Me!" 

That, My beloved friend, is the issue for you today. Don't let failure, pride, embarrassment, overstatement, rivalry, jealousy, envy, or sin stand in the way of your following Me. Just as surely as you must face your failure, you have to know that even more I want to reclaim, remake, and restore you to useful service in My kingdom. So, follow Me!

Verses to Live

Today's verses continue the story from yesterday — the time after My resurrection when Peter took six other apostles fishing with him. Not only does this story parallel closely the time I called Peter, Andrew, James and John from their life as fisherman, but there are those "third time" parallels that run throughout this event. All of that is important to notice, however, only if you get the message. I don't want those who have failed Me and other disciples to give up and quit. I don't want them living their lives in guilt and suspicion because they have not addressed their sinful failures. I want to re-call them to ministry. Notice how I do this with Peter.
Jesus took the bread and gave it to each of them, and then He did the same with the fish. This was the third time the disciples had seen Jesus since His death and resurrection. They finished eating breakfast.

Jesus:
Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these other things?

Simon Peter:
Yes, Lord. You know that I love You.

Jesus:
Take care of My lambs.

Jesus asked him a second time...

Jesus:
Simon, son of John, do you love Me?

Simon Peter:
Yes, Lord. You must surely know that I love You.

Jesus:
Shepherd My sheep.

Jesus (for the third time):
Simon, son of John, do you love Me?

Peter was hurt because He asked him the same question a third time, "Do you love Me?"

Simon Peter:
Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You.

Jesus:
Look after My sheep. I tell you the truth: when you were younger, you would pick up and go wherever you pleased; but when you grow old, someone else will help you and take you places you do not want to go.

Jesus said all this as an indicator of the nature of Peter's death, which would glorify God. After this conversation, Jesus said,

Jesus:
Follow Me!

Peter turned around to see the disciple loved by Jesus following the two of them, the same disciple who leaned back on Jesus' side during their supper and asked, "Lord, who is going to betray You?"

Peter:
Lord, and what will happen to this man?

Jesus:
If I choose for him to remain till I return, what difference will this make to you? You follow Me!

It is from this exchange with Jesus that some thought this disciple would not die. But Jesus never said that. He said, "If I choose for him to remain till I return, what difference will this make to you?" That very same disciple is the one offering this truthful account written just for you. There are so many other things that Jesus said and did; and if these accounts were also written down, the books could not be contained in the entire cosmos.

(John 21:13-25)

Response in Prayer

Holy God, I know that you have things for me to do to bless others and honor You. Help me know these things I am supposed to do. Help me do these things humbly and faithfully. Use these things to bless others. And, dear Father, when I fail, please give me the courage to face my spiritual failures and to trust that You will reclaim, remake, and restore me. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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"Hold These Promises in Your Heart" — A Year with Jesus for 05/27/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God,

Beginning today and for the next several days, I will remind you of things I shared with My closest disciples on the night I was betrayed. The beloved disciple, known to you as John, wrote these down for you. They are a series of comforting words and empowering promises about what I can do and will do for you because I have returned to the Father. Many of these promises focus upon My sending of the Holy Spirit and the Spirit's intercession for you as your Advocate at the Father's side.

Today I want you to see a list of promises that you will find embedded in the verses below. These promises are yours because of My resurrection from the dead and My ascension to the right hand of the Father. These are great promises for you to memorize as a source of encouragement on days that are not so great, so I encourage you to hold these promises in your heart:

My Father's home is designed to accommodate all of you.

I am going to make arrangements for your arrival.

I will be there to greet you personally and welcome you home, where we will be together

If you know Me, you know the Father.

If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.

Whoever believes in Me will be able to do what I have done, but they will do even greater things, because I will return to be with the Father.

Whatever you ask for in My name, I will do it so that the Father will get glory from the Son.
My returning to the Father was so important for My disciples, but they could not anticipate how My leaving them would be to their advantage. Yet I wanted them to know — and yes, I want you to know this as well — My work at the Father's side as your Intercessor, Advocate, and Gift-giver is for your great advantage. So remember My promises and don't forget to ask of Me. I am at the Father's side for you until you come home to Us!
Verses to Live

Home is such an important place. I want you to know that I am preparing your new home with Me. This is just one of several incredible promises you will find in the verses below as I speak the truth about My love for you, My preparation for you, My presence in you, and the coming of the Holy Spirit — the Spirit will be more of our focus tomorrow. Be blessed!
Jesus:
Don't get lost in despair; believe in God, and keep on believing in Me. My Father's home is designed to accommodate all of you. If there were not room for everyone, I would have told you that. I am going to make arrangements for your arrival. I will be there to greet you personally and welcome you home, where we will be together. You know where I am going and how to get there.

Thomas:
Lord, we don't know where You are going, so how can we know the path?

Jesus:
I am the path, the truth, and the energy of life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you know Me, you know the Father. Rest assured now; you know Him and have seen Him.

Philip:
Lord, all I am asking is that You show us the Father.

Jesus (to Philip):
I have lived with you all this time, and you still don't know who I am? If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father. How can you keep asking to see the Father? Don't you believe Me when I say I abide in the Father and the Father dwells in Me? I'm not making this up as I go along. The Father has given Me these truths that I have been speaking to you, and He empowers all My actions. Accept these truths: I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me. If you have trouble believing based on My words, believe because of the things I have done. I tell you the truth: whoever believes in Me will be able to do what I have done, but they will do even greater things, because I will return to be with the Father. Whatever you ask for in My name, I will do it so that the Father will get glory from the Son. Let Me say it again: if you ask for anything in My name, I will do it.

(John 14:1-14)

Response in Prayer

O Father, these precious promises give me great hope and will sustain me through my darkest days and longest nights as I await the reunion of all who belong to You on the day Jesus returns. Until then, I will pray in Jesus' name and rejoice in the blessings that are mine because Jesus rose from the dead, ascended to Your right hand, and lives to make intercession for me and others like me who love You and long for Jesus' return. I praise and thank You in Jesus' name. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Sun 25 May 2014, 12:06 pm

A Turnaround" — A Year with Jesus for 05/24/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Seeker of truth,

Over the next several days, I will continue talking to you about the apostle Peter and how I restored him back to ministry after his three denials on the night of My arrest. Peter over-promised what he would do to stand with Me. I warned him that he would deny me three times, which is exactly what happened. I told Peter that I was praying for him:
I have prayed that your faith will hold firm and that you will recover from your failure and become a source of strength for your brothers here.

(Luke 22:32)

While initially Peter was willing to defend Me using force when the Temple guards came to arrest Me, I told him to put away the sword. I then allowed these Temple soldiers to arrest Me. This left Peter confused. In the aftermath of My arrest and during the early stages of My illegal trial by the Jewish religious leaders, he denied he knew Me. He insisted he was not associated with Me. He protested and spoke an oath declaring that he was not associated with Me. Then, I looked at him across the courtyard, the rooster crowed, and Peter was deeply grieved when he realized what he had done and how he had failed.

Peter, the rock, one of MY future leaders among the My apostles and in the early church, had stumbled miserably. His failure was not a secret. His agony over his actions was genuine. So before I share with you how I restored Peter, I wanted to remind you of a story I told. I was in the middle of a confrontation with the religious leaders. I told them the story about two sons — see the verses below.
Part of the story is about repentance. I want you to think of repentance in terms of the word "turnaround." That's what Peter needed — a major turnaround. He was prone to over-promising, reaching to grab the spotlight, and wanting to go first, be best, and say the right thing at the right time — whether it was walking on the water, confessing Me as Lord but denying I would suffer, or not wanting Me to wash his feet. On each of these occasions, Peter failed: he over-promised and under-delivered!

At times, Peter was like both sons in the story. He over-promised what he would do and didn't keep his word — this is like the second son. Yet, like the first son, when he had time to think through his actions, he was sorrowful and wanted to get his life back on track. Somewhere along the way, he needed to own both his overstatements and his failures. He needed a turnaround. He needed to leave the past failures behind and walk a new direction — My direction, the direction of faithful obedience.

You, like Peter, will stumble and fall. You will fail to live up to what you want to be. You don't want that. I don't want that. Yet it will happen. The question at that point is very simple: Will you choose to stay in the place where you've faltered and accept failure or will you choose to own your failures and turnaround to live differently for Me?

The bottom line in a life of discipleship is not pretending you are perfect, not saying the right thing to make yourself look good, and not hiding or excusing your sin. I'm not looking for a person who fakes holiness to look righteous. What matters is that you are cut to the heart when you fail and then are willing to own that failure, turnaround and get back on track living for Me.

My righteousness covers those who repent — who choose to turn their lives around. So if you have let Me down and disappointed yourself because of your sin, remember that your failure isn't fatal unless you choose for it to be final. I always welcome a turnaround.

Verses to Live

Which of the two sons below are you most like? Do you over-promise and fail to deliver trying to make yourself look good to the folks around you? Do you push back against what I call you to do, but after thinking about it, get your life back on track? For Me, the appearance of being religious means nothing. What I AM after is your heart and your obedience. Even if you find yourself in the shoes of the second son, know you can change, you can turn around and you can get your life back on track and live for Me. Just remember My apostle Peter, who started out as the second son, but ended up turning things around like the first son.

Jesus:
I will tell you a story, and you can tell Me what you make of it: There was a man who had two sons. He said to his first son:

Father:
Go and work in the vineyard today.

First Son:
No, I will not.

But later the first son changed his mind and went. Then the father went to his second son.

Father:
Go and work in the vineyard today.

Second Son:
Of course, Father.

But then he did not go. So which of the sons did what the father wanted?

Chief Priests and Elders (answering at once):
The first.

Jesus:
I tell you this: the tax collectors and prostitutes will enter the kingdom of God ahead of you. John came to show you the straight path, the path to righteousness. You did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. Even as you saw the prostitutes and the tax collectors forgiven and washed clean, finding their footing on the straight path to righteousness, still you did not change your ways and believe.

(Matthew 21:28-32)


Response in Prayer

O Father, forgive me for the ways and times I have faltered, stumbled, and fallen. I ask that the Holy Spirit give me the strength to get up and turn my life around. I thank you for Your generous and gracious forgiveness. I thank you for the many examples of those in Scripture who faltered, stumbled, and fell, yet turned their heart and behavior around to live for You. Thank You for using them and I trust that you will use me as I turn my heart and behavior around to live for You. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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"Back at the Beginning?" — A Year with Jesus for 05/25/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

Sometimes things have a way of repeating themselves. In the verses below, you find the apostle Peter and six of My disciples back where Peter was when I first called him to follow me; they were fishing (Luke 5:1-11). Once again, they catch no fish during a long night of fishing. Once again, I direct them to the place to catch fish and they net a huge haul of fish. In the first occurrence, after experiencing the miraculous catch of fish, Peter fell at My feet and said:
I can’t take this, Lord. I’m a sinful man. You shouldn’t be around the likes of me.

(Luke 5:8).
I then called Peter to leave his life as a fisherman and follow Me to start reaching people with My good news.

After over three years of ministry with Me, Peter is back where he began. Yet I need him ready to lead My disciples to take the good news to the world. However, Peter's failure stands in the way. Despite My warning, he denied Me three times on the night I was betrayed. Despite his claims that he would not fail Me even if the other disciples did, he failed to live up to his word. Peter's failure stood in the way of his leadership.

There was that other problem. A problem symbolized by Peter's jumping into the water, swimming ashore, and leaving the other men behind in the boat to take care of the fish. Peter needed to humble himself, do the little things that needed to be done, and live faithfully for Me. Most importantly, the confession that he was a sinful man didn't happen this time. Enough time had passed for Peter to own the ways he had failed Me on the night I was betrayed. He had not. My appearance to Peter and the apostles on the beach — see the verses below — is My third appearance to them. Peter had not yet confessed his failure and asked for forgiveness from Me or from the disciples.

Bottom line: Peter's failure and his brash bravado stood in the way of his being a great servant leader in the new church that was about to be born. So I begin My ministry of restoration with Peter. I will firmly, but lovingly, help him confront his failure in front the men who knew it best. So I seized this opportunity to help Peter remember — to remember his initial call to become a fisherman for people and follow Me and to remember his failure to live up to his brash promises.

In tomorrow's verses, you will join Me as I directly but lovingly confront and restore Peter. Today, however, I want you to think about how your own sin and failure can make you feel as if you have to start all over and re-win My trust, re-prove your faithfulness, and re-earn your right to My grace. Please know that is not true.

I long to forgive and restore you. I do ask that you own your failure, that you trust the sufficiency of My grace, and that you get back to following Me. Yet don't let shame destroy you. Don't let your pride keep you from being honest with Me and others. Don't let the evil one cloud your heart with doubts about My love for you. I long to restore you. I want to use you to grow My kingdom and share My grace. I will use your failures to help you learn to be gracious and empathetic with others so they can be restored, too. I did it with Peter. I will do it with you!

Believe in My love for you. Rely on the grace I have for you. Trust the plans that I have to use you. Follow me!

Verses to Live

Notice how similar this is to the first call of Peter (Luke 5:1-11). Notice how these two events are different. Why do you think I chose for this to be the scene of My third appearance to the apostles after My resurrection? What do you think would have happened to Peter and his leadership if I had not confronted him about his failure before returning to the Father?
There was one other time when Jesus appeared to the disciples — this time by the Sea of Tiberias. This is how it happened: Simon Peter, Thomas (the Twin), Nathanael (the Galilean from Cana), the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together.

Simon Peter (to disciples):
I am going fishing.

Disciples:
Then we will come with you.

They went out in the boat and caught nothing through the night. As day was breaking, Jesus was standing on the beach; but they did not know it was Jesus.

Jesus:
My sons, you haven't caught any fish, have you?

Disciples:
No.

Jesus:
Throw your net on the starboard side of the boat, and your net will find the fish.

They did what He said, and suddenly they could not lift their net because of the massive weight of the fish that filled it. The disciple loved by Jesus turned to Peter and said:

Beloved Disciple:
It is the Lord.

Immediately, when Simon Peter heard these words, he threw on his shirt (which he would take off while he was working) and dove into the sea. The rest of the disciples followed him, bringing in the boat and dragging in their net full of fish. They were close to the shore, fishing only about 100 yards out. When they arrived on shore, they saw a charcoal fire laid with fish on the grill. He had bread too.

Jesus (to disciples):
Bring some of the fish you just caught.

Simon Peter went back to the boat to unload the fish from the net. He pulled 153 large fish from the net. Despite the number of the fish, the net held without a tear.

Jesus:
Come, and join Me for breakfast.

Not one of the disciples dared to ask, "Who are You?" They knew it was the Lord. Jesus took the bread and gave it to each of them, and then He did the same with the fish. This was the third time the disciples had seen Jesus since His death and resurrection.

(John 21:1-14)

Response in Prayer

O Father, thank you for grace. Thank you for repentance. Thank you for new starts. Thank You for being the God of comfort, forgiveness, and grace. I own my failures — I confess them to You and trust You will completely remove the guilt of my sin from me. I trust you have removed my sin from me as far as the east is from the west. I commit to follow Jesus, to live for Him, and to love You with all that I am and to love others by sharing Your grace with them. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Fri 23 May 2014, 10:02 pm

"Beyond Failure" — A Year with Jesus for 05/23/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

Yesterday I reminded you that I live forever at the Father's side to make intercession for you. I emphasized that My atoning sacrifice was not just effective at the cross, but it has ongoing power to forgive your sins and cleanse you. I asked that you would be honest with Me about your sin and failure — that you confess them to the Father and to at least one other believer and trust that when you walk with Me in the light of truth My grace is powerful and effective (1 John 1:5-10).

The next several days, I want to take you on My journey with My apostle, Simon Peter. I want you to see him as I warned him about his upcoming sin. I want you to realize that while he stumbled and fell, his faith didn't completely fail. The verses below will remind you of My warning to him. In that warning, I urge My disciples to recognize that the time is different than when I sent them out initially and that they will need to take some things with them.

Later on that evening when I was arrested, Peter used a sword to try to defend me (John 18:10) — he was obviously trying to live up to his promise of being willing to die with Me and for Me. He was confused when I told him to put away the sword and that I must fulfill what the Scriptures had said about Me (John 18:11; Matthew 26:50-54). Not very much later that evening, Peter denied Me three times by a charcoal fire — just as I had told him he would (John 18:16-27). I looked straight at him across the courtyard and he ran away devastated by his failure when he heard the rooster crow (Luke 22:61-62).

What should I do with those who claim to follow Me and then deny, betray, or abandon Me in a moment of weakness... or confusion... or fear... or concern for their family... or...? Even many of the so-called best and bravest have failed at one point or another. Does that disqualify them from My grace? Does that mean that I abandon them as they have abandoned Me?

Watch closely these next few days. See how I restored Peter — not just lovingly confronted him and forgave him, but restored him to leadership among the apostles! But for today, notice the seeds of grace I planted in Peter's heart and in the hearts of the other disciples.

Know that as you face your trials My words are equally true for you: "I have prayed that your faith will hold firm and that you will recover from your failure and become a source of strength for your brothers here." My grace not only can sustain you, but it can also reclaim you when you have failed yet are still clinging — be it tenaciously or tenuously — to the hope that I will never leave you or forsake you!
Verses to Live

Over the next several days, I want to show you how I approach forgiveness and cleansing — the promise I made you yesterday using John's words about My atoning sacrifice and My ongoing work of being your Advocate before the Father (1 John 1:5-10; 1 John 2:1-2). So read the words carefully and you will see how I was already preparing Peter to overcome his failure and sin and to be restored as My leader. Did his faith fail? No it didn't, not permanently. You will see that his failure — unlike Judas' failure — wasn't final. Was he confused? Yes! Was he overconfident? Absolutely! Did he deny me three times? Yes! Did he quit in his failure or hold out hope beyond it? He held out hope... and so should you!

Simon Peter:
Lord, where are You going?

Jesus:
Peter, you cannot come with Me now, but later you will join Me.

Peter:
Why can't I go now? I'll give my life for You!

(John 13:36-37)

Jesus:
Simon, Simon, how Satan has pursued you, that he might make you part of his harvest. But I have prayed for you. I have prayed that your faith will hold firm and that you will recover from your failure and become a source of strength for your brothers here.

Peter:
Lord, what are You talking about? I'm going all the way to the end with You — to prison, to execution — I'm prepared to do anything for You.

Jesus:
No, Peter, the truth is that before the rooster crows at dawn, you will have denied that you even know Me, not just once, but three times. Remember when I sent you out with no money, no pack, not even sandals? Did you lack anything?

Disciples:
Not a thing.

Jesus:
It's different now. If you have some savings, take them with you. If you have a pack, fill it and bring it. If you don't have a sword, sell your coat and buy one. Here's the truth: what the Hebrew Scriptures said, "And He was taken as one of the criminals," must come to fruition in Me. These words must come true.

Disciples:
Look, Lord, we have two swords here.

Jesus:
That's enough.

(Luke 22:31-38)
Response in Prayer

Lord Jesus, I live today confidently. I am not confident in my abilities to never fail, forsake, or disappoint you, but confident in Your grace to reclaim and restore me. I promise to never take sin lightly. I will do my best to never presume on the generosity of Your grace. But for those times when I sin — I fail, forsake, or deny you — I will not believe the lies of Satan that I am worthless and irreclaimable. I will remember Your grace and how You reclaimed and restored Peter, so I trust you can do the same with me. Thank you. And thank you Father for such redemptive love. In Jesus' grace I rest my hope and give You thanks. Amen.
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"Walking in the Light of Grace" — A Year with Jesus for 05/22/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

My work for you did not end when I returned to the father. My work as an atoning sacrifice was just the beginning. After I was raised from the dead and after I ascended to the Father, I began My work as a heavenly intercessor for all those who are My disciples. My atoning gift was the last sacrifice needed. My work at the Father's side ensures that you have Me to be your holy advocate. Rather than being your adversary in times of sin and moral failure, My sacrifice still covers your sin and assures not only your forgiveness, but also your cleansing. You can not only be forgiven, but also be made as pure as if you had never sinned!

We — Father, Son, and Spirit — do not want you to sin. While some sin is rebellion, some is weakness, some of it is immaturity, and some sin is just missing your intended target with the character of your life! What I ask is that you are open about your sin with the Father and with at least one other brother or sister in Christ. Confess that sin. Come clean about your sin, rebellion, moral failure, and shortcomings. You are not going to do everything perfectly — only the deluded would think it is possible to live perfectly. Only a liar would try to cling to his or her own sinlessness. However, if you walk with Me in the open fellowship of My grace and My holiness, you will confess your sin for what it is. You will want it gone, purged from any record of wrongs.

As your heavenly Advocate, I speak to the Father in your defense. My righteousness becomes your righteousness. My grace provides the ongoing effectiveness of My sacrifice for your sins. My representation of your case before the Father is your assurance of forgiveness and cleansing. I live to make intercession for you. I live to ensure that your sins are not only forgiven, but you are cleansed — made clean, new, and pure. And this is what I ask as you realize the love and blessings of this grace: realize it is for every lost person in the world as much as it is for you! Please, pass this good news of My atoning sacrifice and My gift of new life on to those who are lost.

As the Holy Spirit said in the book of Hebrews, I live "forever to intercede with God" on your behalf (Hebrews 7:25 NLT). My resurrection and ascension to the Father means your forgiveness, cleansing, and assurance of heaven. So walk with Me... be honest with Me... and share My light and My grace because others need the same forgiveness and cleansing that you have received.

Verses to Live

Read the following verses several times. They are from My beloved disciple John who wrote them to encourage folks who were discouraged about their own sin. These verses contain great promises to you about the work I am doing right now in the presence of the Father — work that will bless you and bless all who choose to follow Me as their Lord and Savior:
What we are telling you now is the very message we heard from Him [Jesus]: God is pure light, undimmed by darkness of any kind. If we say we have an intimate connection with the Father but we continue stumbling around in darkness, then we are lying because we do not live according to truth. If we walk step by step in the light, where the Father is, then we are ultimately connected to each other through the sacrifice of Jesus His Son. His blood purifies us from all our sins. If we go around bragging, "We have no sin," then we are fooling ourselves and are strangers to the truth. But if we own up to our sins, God shows that He is faithful and just by forgiving us of our sins and purifying us from the pollution of all the bad things we have done. If we say, "We have not sinned," then we depict God as a liar and show that we have not let His word find its way into our hearts.

(1 John 1:5-10)

You are my little children, so I am writing these things to help you avoid sin. If, however, any believer does sin, we have a high- powered defense lawyer — Jesus the Anointed, the righteous — arguing on our behalf before the Father. It was through His sacrificial death that our sins were atoned. But He did not stop there — He died for the sins of the whole world.

(1 John 2:1-2)
Response in Prayer

O Father, I know that I have sinned and fallen short of Your plan for Me. Thank You Lord Jesus for Your sacrifice — the sacrifice of Your comfort, Your security, Your pain, Your life — to give me grace and the way to receive mercy through forgiveness and cleansing. Thank you Holy Spirit for Your work to transform me to be more like Jesus. Words are inadequate to properly thank You, so I commit to live for You and to share Your grace with others so that they can share in these blessings. In Jesus' name I offer You my thanks and praise. Amen.
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"Wait!" — A Year with Jesus for 05/21/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Follower,

I know that waiting for you is so hard. Regardless of your reason for waiting, I know that waiting is hard. However, sometimes the best thing you can do to catch the Wind of Heaven (the Holy Spirit) in your sails of faith is to... prayerfully wait.

Think for a minute about all that My closest disciples had experienced over the week before My crucifixion, through My last week in Jerusalem, during the brutal day of My crucifixion and the days My body lay lifeless in the tomb, in the excitement of that first week of My resurrection, and during the forty days of My appearances to them after the resurrection. They had an incredible message to tell the world. They had experienced things no one had ever experienced nor would ever experience again. So in My farewell appearance to them, imagine how hard it was for them to hear the following words:
"Stay in the city until you receive it — until power from heaven comes upon you."

I told them to WAIT!

Wait?

Yes, wait!

You see, the mission that I gave them was staggering. They were going to change the world by taking My story to the nations.

You're wondering, "A band of eleven disciples was actually going to take the message of My life, death, and resurrection to the world?"

Yes!

You're still wondering, "This rag tag group of disciples was going to fulfill their world mission without money, without positions of power, without an international network of partners, in a world of travel mostly by foot or on sailing ships, and very, very slow mail service without any internet or phone service?"

Yes!

Yes! That was their mission.

Yes! That is what they did.

You see, the secret to fulfilling their mission — and for you to fulfill your mission — is the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

Over the nearly two thousand years since My resurrection, many have receptively heard My words of commission to take the good news message to all the world. They have trained. They have studied languages. They have prepared themselves culturally. They have prepared themselves theologically. They have trained themselves in communication, cross-cultural communication, culture shock, and reverse culture shock. Yet they have sometimes not taken the time to wait... to wait for Me to guide them to the place... to wait for Me to tell them it is time to go... and especially to wait for the Holy Spirit to come and empower them.

Imagine My message as a fire, a burning flame. But as powerfully as that flame may burn, it is surrounded by pockets of unbelief, places of hostility, and non-combustible spaces of disinterest. To jump these zones where the fire has little fuel to burn, the flame needs the Wind of Heaven, the Holy Spirit, to propel it past the barriers of indifference and rejection. The bearers and keepers of the flame need the Spirit to empower that flame to burn brightly in places where hearts are ready to be lit afire with the grace of heaven.

My messengers must have more than human power and plans. As good as they are, as precious as their faith is, and as noble as their intentions may be, they need power — real, holy, enduring, heavenly, power! They needed — and before you launch on some great ambitious plan to bring Me glory and share My grace, you need — Holy Spirit power. So please, honor Me by dedicating yourself to waiting in prayer for the release and guidance and power of the Holy Spirit rather than trying to do things on your own strength.

Isaiah promised strength from the Lord many years before I promised it to My little band of would-be world-changers:
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;

but they who wait for the Lord
shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

(Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV)


In a few weeks, I will take you on a journey through the book of Acts. You will see this little band of believers become a massive and multi-cultural family held together and propelled to new frontiers by the power of the Holy Spirit. You need to know that I want to do the same thing in your day, again and again, with people who are committed to "make disciples" by "going" and "baptizing" and "teaching" others to know and "to obey" all that I taught (Matthew 28:18-20). So I ask you to wait — not stall, not make excuses, not grow cold to My message, not give into the distractions of the world, but — wait through prayer and holy expectation for the coming of the Holy Spirit with power.
Verses to Live

Before I ascended back to the Father, I promised My closest disciples that I would send them "power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you." You will see that power lived out in the stories from the book of Acts. However, I want you to read the two passages that follow these promises and realize this important truth: the Holy Spirit is also promised to you! I will remind you of this in coming days, but for now, realize that My resurrection and return to the Father mean the release of the promised gift of the Holy Spirit!
To a lover of God, Theophilus: In my first book, I recounted the events of Jesus' life — His actions, His teachings — from the beginning of His life until He was taken up into heaven. After His great suffering and vindication, He showed His apostles that He was alive — appearing to them repeatedly over a period of 40 days, giving them many convincing proofs of His resurrection. As before, He spoke constantly of the kingdom of God. During these appearances, He had instructed His chosen messengers through the Holy Spirit, prohibiting them from leaving Jerusalem, but rather requiring them to wait there until they received what He called "the promise of the Father."

Jesus:
This is what you heard Me teach — that just as John ritually cleansed people with water through baptism, so you will be washed with the Holy Spirit very soon.

When they had gathered just outside Jerusalem at the Mount of Olives, they asked Jesus,

Disciples:
Is now the time, Lord — the time when You will reestablish Your kingdom in our land of Israel?

Jesus:
The Father, on His own authority, has determined the ages and epochs of history, but you have not been given this knowledge. Here's the knowledge you need: you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. And you will be My witnesses, first here in Jerusalem, then beyond to Judea and Samaria, and finally to the farthest places on earth.

(Acts 1:1-8)

Jesus (speaking to the disciples):
So I am sending My Father's promise to you. Stay in the city until you receive it — until power from heaven comes upon you.

Then He leads them out to Bethany. He lifts up His hands and blesses them, and at that moment, with His hands raised in blessing, He leaves them and is carried up into heaven. They worship Him, then they return to Jerusalem, filled with intense joy, and they return again and again to the temple to celebrate God.

(Luke 24:49-53)

[From the events at Pentecost during that first great gospel sermon.]
Peter's words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?"

Peter replied, "Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles — all who have been called by the Lord our God." 

(Acts 2:37-39 NLT)

As a result, we — the first to place our hope in the Anointed One — will live in a way to bring Him glory and praise. Because you, too, have heard the word of truth — the good news of your salvation — and because you believed in the One who is truth, your lives are marked with His seal. This is none other than the Holy Spirit who was promised as the guarantee toward the inheritance we are to receive when He frees and rescues all who belong to Him. To God be all praise and glory!

(Ephesians 1:12-14)
Response in Prayer

O Father, forgive me, forgive us, for the times that we have either disregarded Jesus' commission or we have launched out trying to do that mission on our power. I confess that I don't know everything about the work of the Holy Spirit, but I do know this: I can't and we can't live out our mission without the presence and power of the Wind of Heaven. Jesus promised that you would send the Holy Spirit to us if we ask and so I'm asking as one committed to live Your will and fulfill Jesus' commission: please send the Spirit to empower me, and us, and servants throughout the world trying to share the message of Jesus. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

If you would like to learn more about the Holy Spirit through a short daily devotional on the Spirit's work, check our SpiritFire — you can subscribe and receive it free in your inbox every day.
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- Immanuel: Compassion" — A Year with Jesus for 05/19/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

I call you friend because you know My will (John 15:15). I have brought you into My family through My sacrifice on the cross. I have given you the power to live in My family through the Holy Spirit within you. So today as we continue talking about Matthew's Immanuel sayings, I call you to be a friend to others who desperately need your compassion and My grace in their lives.

The Immanuel sayings promise that you can experience My presence in your daily life. These sayings that My coming to earth to be Immanuel, God with you, allows you to experience My presence through entering into My story (Matthew 1:22-23), living together in MY name as authentic spiritual family (Matthew 18:20), actively demonstrating compassion to those in need (Matthew 25:40), and through making disciples in other cultures and leading them to know Me (Matthew 28:18-20).! 

Today, I want to focus upon the third of these sayings. These are My words that are part of the longer passage you will find in the verses section below:
Come here, you beloved, you people whom My Father has blessed. Claim your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of creation. You shall be richly rewarded, for when I was hungry, you fed Me. And when I was thirsty, you gave Me something to drink. I was alone as a stranger, and you welcomed Me into your homes and into your lives. I was naked, and you gave Me clothes to wear; I was sick, and you tended to My needs; I was in prison, and you comforted Me. .. I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother or sister hungry or cold, whatever you did to the least of these, so you did to Me.


I want you to treat others, especially the vulnerable among you, as I treated people when I walked the earth. As you do, you will not only be following My example, but you also will experience My presence with you. I'm not promising that doing this will always be easy — it wasn't always easy for Me. I'm not promising you that everyone will be appreciative or recognize the grace you've shared with them — they didn't when I gave them gracious gifts. However, I want you to know one thing for sure: if you will do this out of love to share My grace with others in need, you will find Me there and experience My presence in the serving. You will meet Immanuel!
Verses to Live

As you read these words, remember they come from Me. These are My words spoken from My heart as a matter of great importance. What you do with these words you are doing with Me. These words help you know what is important to the Father at the final judgment. So I hope that you hear the urgency in My words and that you will live them with expectancy — expectancy of meeting Me in the doing of them.

When the Son of Man comes in all His majesty accompanied by throngs of heavenly messengers, His throne will be wondrous. All the nations will assemble before Him, and He will judge them, distinguishing them from one another as a shepherd isolates the sheep from the goats. He will put some, the sheep, at His right hand and some, the goats, at His left. Then the King will say to those to His right:

King:
Come here, you beloved, you people whom My Father has blessed. Claim your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of creation. You shall be richly rewarded, for when I was hungry, you fed Me. And when I was thirsty, you gave Me something to drink. I was alone as a stranger, and you welcomed Me into your homes and into your lives. I was naked, and you gave Me clothes to wear; I was sick, and you tended to My needs; I was in prison, and you comforted Me.

Even then the righteous will not have achieved perfect understanding and will not recall these things.

Righteous:
Master, when did we find You hungry and give You food? When did we find You thirsty and slake Your thirst? When did we find You a stranger and welcome You in, or find You naked and clothe You? When did we find You sick and nurse You to health? When did we visit You when You were in prison?

King:
I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother or sister hungry or cold, whatever you did to the least of these, so you did to Me.


(Matthew 25:31-40)


Response in Prayer

O God, give me the eyes to see people as Jesus does. Give me the heart to feel what others feel as You do, Father. Give the strength inspired by the Spirit within me to serve in ways that are helpful and selfless. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Sun 18 May 2014, 7:45 pm

Immanuel: In Spiritual Family" — A Year with Jesus for 05/18/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

I began yesterday to share with you the four Immanuel passages in the book of Matthew. Recall that Immanuel was the name given to Me in prophecy that means "God with us." The first of the Immanuel sayings (Matthew 1:23) was spoken about Me. The remaining three were spoken by Me. I spoke these three Immanuel sayings as promises to My closest followers. While these last three don't specifically use the name Immanuel, they emphasize that I AM with you when you come together as authentic spiritual family (Matthew 18:20), when you compassionately care for "the least of these" (Matthew 25:40), and when you step outside your culture to make disciples and lead them to follow Me (Matthew 28:18-20). In other words, I AM not only raised from the dead, but I AM alive and present with you and I want you to know how you can experience My presence in your life as My disciple.

Today, the verses below are focused on experiencing My presence in community, or as I prefer to call it, spiritual family. You are not members of an organization, but you are blood-bought family. You are brothers and sisters who share something more important than a blood line or common DNA markers: the Holy Spirit, the presence of Us — Father, Son, and Spirit — is living in you and making you spiritual family.

Family life can sometimes be messy and difficult, but the Father of every family has given you the power of the resurrection in the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:17-20; Ephesians 3:14-21) and this power can help you live together as true spiritual family. When you choose to live in the radical ways I called you to live as My family, you are living with Me — My presence is there with you and among you.

This means that you will care about how you use your freedom and will be careful not to cause a new disciple to stumble and fall away. You will go directly to a person who offends you rather than gossiping about that person or trying to get even. You will forgive any brother or sister who sins against you and asks forgiveness — and you will continue to forgive as long as that person asks for your forgiveness. You will notice when one of your brothers or sisters has wandered away, been overcome by sin, or has dropped out of the family. You will not only notice the absence of that brother or sister; you will also search for that brother or sister.

And here is My promise, the Immanuel saying that reminds you that I AM present and can be experienced in your world as you live as spiritual family: "For when two or three gather together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."

Verses to Live

As you read My words in the verses below, remember that I AM calling you to live these teachings as My spiritual family. My teaching assumes this will be messy — that everyone in My family will be imperfect just as you are and that you need each other to become what I've called you to become. As you live as spiritual family, here is the great blessing: I will be there among you!

Around that same time, the disciples came to Jesus and questioned Him about the kingdom of heaven.

A Disciple:
In the kingdom of heaven, who is the greatest?

Jesus called over a little child. He put His hand on the top of the child's head.

Jesus:
This is the truth: unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. In that kingdom, the most humble who are most like this child are the greatest. And whoever welcomes a child, welcomes her in My name, welcomes Me. And do not lead astray one of the weak and friendless who believes in Me. If you do, it would be better for you to be dragged down with a millstone and drowned in the bottom of the sea.

Beware indeed of those in a world filled with obstacles and temptations that cause people to turn away from Me. Those temptations are woven into the fabric of a world not yet redeemed, but beware to anyone who lures righteous women and men off the narrow path. If your hand constantly grasps at the things of this world rather than serves the Kingdom — cut it off and throw it away. If your foot is always leading you to wander, then cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to hobble, crippled, into the kingdom of life than to burn in hell with two hands and two feet. And if your eye always focuses on things that cause you to sin, then pull your eye out and throw it away. It is better for you to see the kingdom of life with one eye than to see the fires of hell with perfect sight.

Make sure that you do not look down on the little ones, on those who are further behind you on the path of righteousness. For I tell you: they are watched over by those most beloved messengers who are always in the company of My Father in heaven. [The Son of Man has come to save all those who are lost.] A shepherd in charge of 100 sheep notices that one of his sheep has gone astray. What do you think he should do? Should the shepherd leave the flock on the hills unguarded to search for the lost sheep? God's shepherd goes to look for that one lost sheep, and when he finds her, he is happier about her return than he is about the 99 who stayed put. Your Father in heaven does not want a single one of the tripped, waylaid, stumbling little ones to be lost.

Jesus (continuing His teaching):
This is what you do if one of your brothers or sisters sins against you: go to him, in private, and tell him just what you perceive the wrong to be. If he listens to you, you've won a brother. But sometimes he will not listen. And if he does not listen, go back, taking a friend or two friends with you (for, as we have learned in Deuteronomy, every matter of communal import should be testified to by two or three witnesses). Then, if your brother or sister still refuses to heed, you are to share what you know with the entire church; and if your brother or sister still refuses to listen to the entire church, you are to cast out your unrepentant sibling and consider him no different from outsiders and tax collectors.

Remember this: whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. And this: if two or three of you come together as a community and discern clearly about anything, My Father in heaven will bless that discernment. For when two or three gather together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.

Peter:
Lord, when someone has sinned against me, how many times ought I forgive him? Once? Twice? As many as seven times?

Jesus:
You must forgive not seven times, but seventy times seven.

(Matthew 18:1-22)
Response in Prayer

O Father, forgive me when I have not lived with my brothers and sisters in Christ as my true spiritual family. I do not know what I have missed because of the times I've allowed my own stubborn will and my own injured pride to overrule Your call for me to live differently toward them. So I'm asking for the strengthening power of the Holy Spirit within to help me as I commit myself to live as a part of Your spiritual family and I trust that as I do, Jesus will be ever more real to me as I seek to treat others as He did. I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Sat 17 May 2014, 11:02 pm

Immanuel: In the Story" — A Year with Jesus for 05/17/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

I want you to know Me. I'm not talking about knowing more about Me — although that is a good thing and something I invite you to do by reading more about Me in the Bible books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I want you to know Me — to know that I AM real and to experience My moment-by-moment presence in your life.

Unfortunately somewhere along the way, many churches and teachers began to speak about My great work in the past tense and some even inferred that I didn't do any of the great things I did once long ago. Some teachers and preachers taught about Me in ways that confined My presence and My power to a time long ago and a place far away. They made it seem that when the New Testament was all written that I quit making Myself known and that My presence was no longer experienced in the lives of My people.

I encourage you to go back and read My note to you yesterday and remember that I AM above all things and I reign over all things to bless My people, the church. I AM risen from the dead. I AM alive forever and I will bring all that are mine to join Me in glory. 

One of the great things Matthew wrote into the fabric of his good news story of My life was an emphasis on My identity as Immanuel — I AM the presence of God that can be experienced in the lives of My people. So I want to spend today, along with the following three days, drawing your attention to four passages that we will call Matthew's four Immanuel sayings.

Matthew connected My birth to Mary with a prophecy from Isaiah and identified Me as the promised "Immanuel" — God with you. More than just a statement of My divinity as God in human flesh, "Immanuel" is a reminder that the eternal and immortal I AM — God as Father, Son, and Spirit — became flesh and walked among you and revealed God to you (John 1:14-18). As Immanuel, what I did among you, I did as God with you. You want to know how We — Almighty God as Father, Son, and Spirit — feel about you? Then look at how I treated people, talked to people, cared for people, listened to people, chastised religious people who were hypocrites, healed broken people, challenged people to be more, and sacrificed My self to redeem people. This is how your God feels about you!

So I invite you to enter into My story — going all the way back to the first hinted promise of My coming after the fall of humanity in the garden (Genesis 3:15), then all the way up to My conception in the womb of Mary (Luke 1:26-38). This story actually continues with Me as your living Lord who will return for you. As you enter into this story, realize that this is your story, too! More than a book of laws, history, wisdom, poetry, prophecy, and teachings, I hope you will also look at the Scriptures as your family album — a family history about how you are loved and the kind of people from whom you have come and the glorious promises about where you are headed with your brothers and sisters who find their identity in Me.

As you read from the Bible, expect to meet Me. Ask the Holy Spirit who inspired the words of the Bible to help you understand them. Even more, invite the Holy Spirit to help you hear My voice as I call you to follow Me through the words you read, through the thoughts you have, and through the convictions the Holy Spirit inspires in you. I want you to ask the Spirit to help you discover what I want you to know, feel, and do with what you read.

The apostle Paul told his son in the faith, Timothy, the following:
So surely you ought to stick to what you know is certain. All you have learned comes from people you know and trust because since childhood you have known the holy Scriptures, which enable you to be wise and lead to salvation through faith in Jesus the Anointed. All of Scripture is God-breathed; in its inspired voice, we hear useful teaching, rebuke, correction, instruction, and training for a life that is right so that God’s people may be up to the task ahead and have all they need to accomplish every good work.

(2 Timothy 3:14-17).

Look closely at the words in bold. They teach you two things:
The holy Scriptures lead you to salvation through your faith in Me! I am the key for you as you read the Bible. Ask the Spirit to help you hear My voice and deepen your relationship with Me and your faith in Me.
The holy Scriptures are intended to be lived — to be practical and useful truth for your life. I want to help you use the Bible to live a life of blessing, grace, and character!

So more than dry pages of paper and ink and more than pixels of light and dark, the words of the Bible are part of the way I come to you and instruct you and lead you and love you. So ask Me to come to you as you read. Seek My presence as you come to the holy Scriptures for life-help and hope beyond life's limits. I am still Immanuel — God with you. As the Father said through Amos centuries before My birth to Joseph and Mary, "Seek Me and live..." (Amos 5:4; Amos 5:6; Amos 5:14). I AM still Immanuel — God who longs to be with you!
Verses to Live

Matthew's first Immanuel saying occurs at the beginning of the gospel talking about My miraculous conception in Mary and My human birth to Mary and Joseph. My story is the center of the big story of the Bible and is your story, too, if you are willing to invite Me into your life and into your Bible reading to live it with you.

Joseph woke up from his dream and did exactly what the messenger had told him to do: he married Mary and brought her into his home as his wife (though he did not consummate their marriage until after her son was born). And when the baby was born, Joseph named Him Jesus, Savior.

Years and years ago, Isaiah, a prophet of Israel, foretold the story of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus:
A virgin will conceive and bear a Son,

and His name will be Immanuel

(which is a Hebrew name that means "God with us").


(Matthew 1:22-24)

Response in Prayer

Forgive Me, O God, for the times I have approached the Bible as just a book of facts and laws and history or didn't engage my heart when I read the Scriptures. I ask that the Holy Spirit — Your presence within me — open my heart to the message of the holy Scriptures so that I can live a productive life that blesses others and reflects Your righteous character and gracious compassion. In the powerful name of Jesus, Immanuel, I pray. Amen.
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"Be Unshakable" — A Year with Jesus for 05/14/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious One,

The writer of the "word of exhortation" (Hebrews 13:22) that you call the book of Hebrews wrote this:
When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now He makes another promise: "Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also." This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain. Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful... (Hebrews 12:26-28 NLT).

Do you hear the profound truth in these words?

As a disciple, you are part of something that can't be shaken. You are part of an unshakable kingdom. The world will pass away. Your body will die. Your riches will fade. Your homes, clothes, mementos, and valuables will rust, rot, decay, fall apart, and be lost — if not in your lifetime, then eventually everything physical will be lost.

This is not true of you! You are eternal! What you believe and the One in Whom you believe connect you to what is unshakable.

My resurrection from the dead means so many things that are good and precious for you, but today I want you to hear the apostle Paul's words of exhortation in verses below: "Be unshakeable!" What you do matters to Me. Everything done to honor Me is remembered forever. Who you are matters to Me. Your future matters to Me.

I faced death, enduring the horrors and humiliations of the cross, so you could know My love. My lifeless body was placed in a new tomb wrapped in burial clothes. The stone across My tomb was sealed and a guard was posted to ensure that My lifeless body stayed in the tomb. However, I defeated the powers of death and hell. Then, on resurrection Sunday, the ground shook and all the powers of evil in all of its manifested forms were shaken — shaken to its core and its grip shaken loose from your life and your future. I arose from death, and the tomb, victorious.

Verses to Live

Everything not eternal was shaken that resurrection day, but not Me... not My promises for you... not the future I purchased for you... and not My victory for you. So spend time pondering those last words in Paul's powerful statement in the verses below. Contemplate what My resurrection means for you. Then go live a life of faith and "be unshakable"!

Now listen to this: brothers and sisters, this present body is not able to inherit the kingdom of God any more than decay can inherit that which lasts forever. Stay close because I am going to tell you a mystery — something you may have trouble understanding: we will not all fall asleep in death, but we will all be transformed. It will all happen so fast, in a blink, a mere flutter of the eye. The last trumpet will call, and the dead will be raised from their graves with a body that does not, cannot decay. All of us will be changed! We'll step out of our mortal clothes and slide into immortal bodies, replacing everything that is subject to death with eternal life. And, when we are all redressed with bodies that do not, cannot decay, when we put immortality over our mortal frames, then it will be as Scripture says:
Life everlasting has victoriously swallowed death.

Hey, Death! What happened to your big win?

Hey, Death! What happened to your sting?
Sin came into this world, and death's sting followed. Then sin took aim at the law and gained power over those who follow the law. Thank God, then, for our Lord Jesus, the Anointed, the Liberating King, who brought us victory over the grave.

My dear brothers and sisters, stay firmly planted — be unshakable — do many good works in the name of God, and know that all your labor is not for nothing when it is for God.

(1 Corinthians 15:50-58)

Response in Prayer

O Father, as I look around and see the realities of my mortal world and the wounds that death afflicts on my heart and the hearts of those that I love, I have to confess something. I do not feel unshakable! Sometimes I feel very vulnerable to the earthquakes of life and death that I encounter. So I ask for the realization that the Holy Spirit is working deep in my heart to help me truly believe that Jesus' resurrection changed everything for me and for those that love Jesus. I want to be unshakable. So I ask, dear Father, for the power of Jesus' resurrection — the Holy Spirit — to awaken my heart to life eternal and the conviction that what I hold dear is truly unshakable. I pray this in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.
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Through the Resurrection" — A Year with Jesus for 05/15/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

My earthly ministry began with My baptism by My cousin, John the Baptist, in the Jordan River (Luke 3:21-23). The heavens were ripped open showing a new time, a new era, had begun in the Father's work of salvation in human history (Mark 1:10-11). The Spirit descended upon Me as the Father spoke the words, "You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy" (Mark 1:11). There in that moment, you are able to see Us — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit — together sharing a glimpse of our eternal and heavenly glory.

Unfortunately those claiming to be My followers have fought, divided, and even forgotten this great gift of baptism. We made baptism available to you as a moment when We — Father, Son, and Spirit — are present together in your life to begin the era of salvation for you as you are baptized into Our name. Matthew records my last words before returning to the Father:
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).

So take a moment and read the verses below and catch a glimpse of some of what baptism can mean for you. Finally, hang on to the last few words in the verses below where the apostle Paul tells you that you "were raised with Him [Me, Jesus] by faith in the resurrection power of God, who brought Him back from the dead."

"Raised with Him."

"By faith."

"Resurrection power."

"Brought back from the dead."

Yes, that's what My resurrection means for you — not just getting wet and not just going through some ceremony. It is actively placing your faith in My victory over sin and death through the power of God. It is not only immersion into water, but it is also immersing your heart into a life joined to Me. It is your appeal to God from a clean conscience as you call on My name for your salvation. The power that was set loose in moment of My resurrection comes to meet you in your moment of trusting in the Father who brought Me back from death.

Everything begins new and fresh with My resurrection and your ultimate trust that this same power is now at work within you.

Verses to Live

I hope you are blessed by the great gifts available to you because of My grace which is received through faith as you place your trust in Me through baptism.

The Anointed One suffered for sins once for all time — the righteous suffering for the unrighteous — so that He might bring us to God. Though He died in the flesh, He was made alive again through the Spirit. And in the Spirit, He went and preached to those spirits held captive. It was these who long ago lived in disobedience while God waited patiently as Noah was building the ark. At that time, only a tiny band — eight people — was spared from the flood.

The water through which the ark safely passed symbolizes now the ceremonial washing through baptism that initiates you into salvation. You are saved not because it cleanses your body of filth but because of your appeal to God from a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King. Now He has entered heaven and sits at the right hand of God as heavenly messengers and authorities and powers submit to His supremacy

(1 Peter 3:18-22)

You were buried with Him beneath the waters of ... baptism and then were raised up with Him by faith in the resurrection power of God, who brought Him back from the dead.

(Colossians 2:12)
Response in Prayer

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for becoming human flesh, living among us, dying for our sins, and triumphing over death through Your resurrection. Thank You Father for Your divine plan and gracious gift of salvation. Thank You Holy Spirit for Your purifying and indwelling presence. All glory and praise be Yours, now and forevermore! Amen.
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"Head Over All Things" — A Year with Jesus for 05/16/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Servant of God,

In My earthly ministry, I repeatedly taught that the greatest in the kingdom of heaven is a servant. My death on the cross for your sins was My ultimate demonstration of this principle. This is also something the apostle Paul reminded the Philippians was to be their motivation and mindset in their relationships with each other (Philippians 2:5-11). My resurrection from the dead and My exaltation to the right hand of the Father provided My vindication — a reminder that the Greatest One of all not only was the suffering Servant for you, but is also now the great I AM "above all rule, authority, power, and dominion; over every name invoked, over every title bestowed in this age and the next."

Greatness is more than a title. Greatness is more than a position. Greatness is more than a reputation. Greatness is rooted in service and sacrifice for others. You know Me now as Master as well as Savior. You know Me as Lord of all as well as the suffering servant of God. I now reign as Savior and Servant as well as Master and Lord. What I want you to realize, however, is that I AM over all things for you — for you individually and for all of My people, those in My spiritual family and part of My church which is My bodily presence in the world today. I reign in glory, not for My own benefit, but for you... and I reign forever over all things!

Verses to Live

Paul's letter you know as the book of Ephesians is full of passionate praise. While it would be great for you to read the whole letter, I want you to at least read these two passages about My place in the created universe for you.

This God has given to each of us grace in full measure according to the Anointed's gift as the Scripture says,
When He ascended to the heights,

He put captivity in chains;

And in His triumph, He gave gifts to the people.
(Well, when it says "He ascended," then that must mean that He had descended earlier to the lower levels, that is, to the earth. The One who descended is the same One who rose from the dead to ascend far above all the heavens so that He could fill all things.)

(Ephesians 4:7-10)

Friends, it is this same might and resurrection power that He [the Father] used in the Anointed One to raise Him from the dead and to position Him at His right hand in heaven. There is nothing over Him. He's above all rule, authority, power, and dominion; over every name invoked, over every title bestowed in this age and the next. God has placed all things beneath His feet and anointed Him as the head over all things for His church. This church is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all in all.

(Ephesians 1:19-23)

Response in Prayer

O Father, I recognize that Jesus bought my forgiveness by being a servant and that He reigns for us, His church, as Lord. Please use me — my thoughts, my words, and my example — to bring glory to You and praise to Jesus for what He has accomplished and what He is doing right now as reigning Lord. Through the powerful name of Jesus, and through the intercession of the Holy Spirit, I pray. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Wed 14 May 2014, 8:55 pm

"Be Unshakable" — A Year with Jesus for 05/14/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious One,

The writer of the "word of exhortation" (Hebrews 13:22) that you call the book of Hebrews wrote this:
When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now He makes another promise: "Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also." This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain. Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful... (Hebrews 12:26-28 NLT).

Do you hear the profound truth in these words?

As a disciple, you are part of something that can't be shaken. You are part of an unshakable kingdom. The world will pass away. Your body will die. Your riches will fade. Your homes, clothes, mementos, and valuables will rust, rot, decay, fall apart, and be lost — if not in your lifetime, then eventually everything physical will be lost.

This is not true of you! You are eternal! What you believe and the One in Whom you believe connect you to what is unshakable.

My resurrection from the dead means so many things that are good and precious for you, but today I want you to hear the apostle Paul's words of exhortation in verses below: "Be unshakeable!" What you do matters to Me. Everything done to honor Me is remembered forever. Who you are matters to Me. Your future matters to Me.

I faced death, enduring the horrors and humiliations of the cross, so you could know My love. My lifeless body was placed in a new tomb wrapped in burial clothes. The stone across My tomb was sealed and a guard was posted to ensure that My lifeless body stayed in the tomb. However, I defeated the powers of death and hell. Then, on resurrection Sunday, the ground shook and all the powers of evil in all of its manifested forms were shaken — shaken to its core and its grip shaken loose from your life and your future. I arose from death, and the tomb, victorious.

Verses to Live

Everything not eternal was shaken that resurrection day, but not Me... not My promises for you... not the future I purchased for you... and not My victory for you. So spend time pondering those last words in Paul's powerful statement in the verses below. Contemplate what My resurrection means for you. Then go live a life of faith and "be unshakable"!

Now listen to this: brothers and sisters, this present body is not able to inherit the kingdom of God any more than decay can inherit that which lasts forever. Stay close because I am going to tell you a mystery — something you may have trouble understanding: we will not all fall asleep in death, but we will all be transformed. It will all happen so fast, in a blink, a mere flutter of the eye. The last trumpet will call, and the dead will be raised from their graves with a body that does not, cannot decay. All of us will be changed! We'll step out of our mortal clothes and slide into immortal bodies, replacing everything that is subject to death with eternal life. And, when we are all redressed with bodies that do not, cannot decay, when we put immortality over our mortal frames, then it will be as Scripture says:
Life everlasting has victoriously swallowed death.

Hey, Death! What happened to your big win?

Hey, Death! What happened to your sting?
Sin came into this world, and death's sting followed. Then sin took aim at the law and gained power over those who follow the law. Thank God, then, for our Lord Jesus, the Anointed, the Liberating King, who brought us victory over the grave.

My dear brothers and sisters, stay firmly planted — be unshakable — do many good works in the name of God, and know that all your labor is not for nothing when it is for God.

(1 Corinthians 15:50-58)

Response in Prayer

O Father, as I look around and see the realities of my mortal world and the wounds that death afflicts on my heart and the hearts of those that I love, I have to confess something. I do not feel unshakable! Sometimes I feel very vulnerable to the earthquakes of life and death that I encounter. So I ask for the realization that the Holy Spirit is working deep in my heart to help me truly believe that Jesus' resurrection changed everything for me and for those that love Jesus. I want to be unshakable. So I ask, dear Father, for the power of Jesus' resurrection — the Holy Spirit — to awaken my heart to life eternal and the conviction that what I hold dear is truly unshakable. I pray this in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Tue 13 May 2014, 7:15 pm

"Joined!" — A Year with Jesus for 05/12/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Partner in Grace,

We are joined!

If you believe that I died for your sins, was buried, and was raised from the dead and if you have shared in baptism with Me based on that faith, then we are "joined"! What saved you — My death, burial, and resurrection — is also something you shared with Me when you called out My name for salvation and we were joined in My death, burial, and resurrection.

As you learned yesterday, the good news story of My saving grace is built on My death, burial, and resurrection which make salvation from sin and death available to you. Your baptism is not a step, a symbol, or a work that merits your salvation. My sacrifice on the cross and My resurrection are what save you. Your faith that what I did — on the cross, in the tomb, and in being raised from the dead — satisfied all of God's demands for righteousness is how you receive My grace. By faith, as you are baptized, we are joined together in these events and My new resurrected life becomes your new life. My future is now your new future. You don't have to earn this grace. You don't have win the Father's favor. You don't have to pay for past sins. You are joined to Me. I paid the debt. I defeated death. I AM alive forever to the glory of God. And you are joined to Me and share in each of these eternity-changing realities!

Paul explained it this way:
Therefore, if anyone is united with the Anointed One, that person is a new creation. The old life is gone — and see — a new life has begun! .. 

[The Creator God] orchestrated this: the Anointed One, who had never experienced sin, became sin for us so that in Him we might embody the very righteousness of God.

(2 Corinthians 5:17)
Verses to Live

Notice the simplicity of the message and how we are "joined" and "united" in My work to save you!

Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

(Romans 6:3-4 NLT)

For I passed down to you the crux of it all which I had also received from others, that the Anointed One, the Liberating King, died for our sins and was buried and raised from the dead on the third day. All this happened to fulfill the Scriptures; it was the perfect climax to God's covenant story.

(1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

Response in Prayer

Holy and Almighty God I know that you are awesome in holiness and completely righteous. I confess that it is hard for me to understand how Jesus could become sin for me so that I could become Your righteousness. Yet, dear Father, I recognize Your overwhelming grace given to me in the gift of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. I come to you in prayer rejoicing that I am joined with Him and share in His triumph over sin and death. I ask for the power of the Holy Spirit to live up to what You have made me by Your grace. In Jesus' name and because of Jesus' sacrifice I thank you. Amen.
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"Dead to the World" — A Year with Jesus for 05/13/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

The world that so many hold onto as their reality is actually in the process of decay — it will not last and cannot supply you with lasting satisfaction. That doesn't mean that the physical world is inherently evil or bad. However, the allure to focus on the stuff of the world rather than focusing upon Us — Father, Son, and Spirit — is strong. So don't fall in love with what cannot ultimately satisfy or eternally sustain.

Your trust in Me, your being joined to Me through faith and baptism, means that you have died to the world and are now alive with Me. My indwelling presence through the Holy Spirit will sustain you and transform you. My life is alive in you and this means that you "will never cease to be."

You trust in My death to ransom you from sin. You trust in the power of My resurrection to give you new life that cannot be stopped by physical death. So I call on you to live for Me by the power of My life in you. I not only want you to be a witness for Me, but also to live by My power that is at work within you to give you life that cannot be taken from you. My resurrection from the dead is not just a historical fact that happened on a specific day nearly two thousand years ago, but My resurrection also happens again and again in you as you offer yourself to live for Me and let My life come alive in you each day.
Verses to Live

As you read these verses from My apostles John and Paul, notice the emphasis on being dead to the world that is passing away and alive to Me and through My power at work within you.

Don't fall in love with this corrupt world or worship the things it can offer. Those who love its corrupt ways don't have the Father's love living within them. All the things the world can offer to you — the allure of pleasure, the passion to have things, and the pompous sense of superiority — do not come from the Father. These are the rotten fruits of this world. This corrupt world is already wasting away, as are its selfish desires. But the person really doing God's will — that person will never cease to be.

(1 John 2:15-17)

May I never put anything above the cross of our Lord Jesus the Anointed. Through Him, the world has been crucified to me and I to this world.

(Galatians 6:14)

I have been crucified with the Anointed One — I am no longer alive — but the Anointed is living in me; and whatever life I have left in this failing body I live by the faithfulness of God's Son, the One who loves me and gave His body on the cross for me

(Galatians 2:20)

For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.

(Colossians 2:12 NLT)

Response in Prayer

Father, may I never boast of what I can do, but only of what You have done, and what You are doing, and what You will do in Me. I ask this of the God Who was and Who is and Who is to come, the I AM, in the name of Jesus Who revealed You to Me. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Mon 12 May 2014, 2:31 pm

"Joined!" — A Year with Jesus for 05/12/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Partner in Grace,

We are joined!

If you believe that I died for your sins, was buried, and was raised from the dead and if you have shared in baptism with Me based on that faith, then we are "joined"! What saved you — My death, burial, and resurrection — is also something you shared with Me when you called out My name for salvation and we were joined in My death, burial, and resurrection.

As you learned yesterday, the good news story of My saving grace is built on My death, burial, and resurrection which make salvation from sin and death available to you. Your baptism is not a step, a symbol, or a work that merits your salvation. My sacrifice on the cross and My resurrection are what save you. Your faith that what I did — on the cross, in the tomb, and in being raised from the dead — satisfied all of God's demands for righteousness is how you receive My grace. By faith, as you are baptized, we are joined together in these events and My new resurrected life becomes your new life. My future is now your new future. You don't have to earn this grace. You don't have win the Father's favor. You don't have to pay for past sins. You are joined to Me. I paid the debt. I defeated death. I AM alive forever to the glory of God. And you are joined to Me and share in each of these eternity-changing realities!

Paul explained it this way:
Therefore, if anyone is united with the Anointed One, that person is a new creation. The old life is gone — and see — a new life has begun! .. 

[The Creator God] orchestrated this: the Anointed One, who had never experienced sin, became sin for us so that in Him we might embody the very righteousness of God.

(2 Corinthians 5:17)
Verses to Live

Notice the simplicity of the message and how we are "joined" and "united" in My work to save you!

Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

(Romans 6:3-4 NLT)

For I passed down to you the crux of it all which I had also received from others, that the Anointed One, the Liberating King, died for our sins and was buried and raised from the dead on the third day. All this happened to fulfill the Scriptures; it was the perfect climax to God's covenant story.

(1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

Response in Prayer

Holy and Almighty God I know that you are awesome in holiness and completely righteous. I confess that it is hard for me to understand how Jesus could become sin for me so that I could become Your righteousness. Yet, dear Father, I recognize Your overwhelming grace given to me in the gift of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. I come to you in prayer rejoicing that I am joined with Him and share in His triumph over sin and death. I ask for the power of the Holy Spirit to live up to what You have made me by Your grace. In Jesus' name and because of Jesus' sacrifice I thank you. Amen.
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According to the Scriptures" — A Year with Jesus for 05/10/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friends,

My resurrection should not have been such a big surprise. While My resurrection was not something anyone would have expected in normal life, I lived My life in tune with the will of the Father and in fulfillment of the scriptures. As I began to make My way to Jerusalem for the final time in My earthly ministry, I repeatedly talked about My death and resurrection three days later (Mark 8:31; Mark 9:30-31; Mark 10:33-34). Scriptures that My followers and I used to speak about My life and My death carry strong hints of My resurrection (Acts 13:32-35 with Psalm 2:1-12 & Psalm 16:7-11; Acts 2:31 with Psalm 16:7-11; Mark 15:34 with Psalm 22:1-31; Acts 8:26-40 with Isaiah 53:7-12). Even those who viewed Me as their enemy worried about My prediction that I would rise from the dead after three days and took precautions to keep anyone from stealing My dead body and making a claim of resurrection (Matthew 27:62-66).

As I promised, as the scriptures had suggested, and as My enemies inadvertently help to validate, I rose from the dead. Grief and loss had so closed My disciples to any good outcome of the horrific events of the cross that I had to go to great lengths to show them that I was alive. So one of the things I did with those closest to Me was to open their minds to understand the scriptures about My resurrection and their upcoming mission (Luke 24:45-49).

So what do I want you to do with this important insight into My resurrection that I have shared with you today?

What difference does it make whether or not the scriptures spoke of My resurrection?

Here are a few real life applications that I want you to take away with you today from the verses below — there are others, but please grab hold of these implications from what I ha! ve told you.

First, what you call the Bible is really My family story. In fact, because you are joined to Me, it is also your family story. It is a gift to help you understand how grace worked its way through the religions of humankind and brought all sacrifices to an end in My sacrifice. All humanity, regardless of race or social standing or gender comes to the Father on equal ground — the ground at the foot of My cross — and can receive grace to be the Father's children through faith in what I did (Galatians 3:26-29).

Second, My life is a fulfillment of that great story of grace (Matthew 5:17-20) and all of its greatest promises find their fulfillment in Me (2 Corinthians 1:18-20). So if you want to know Me more completely, then use the scriptures of what you call the Old Testament. Learn more about Me and use your faith in Me to help you know how to understand how to use those scriptures to bring salvation to you and others (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

Finally, realize that My resurrection helps you look at everything in a new way. My closest disciples weren't bad or dumb because they didn't expect My resurrection; they were grieving and broken and hopeless. However, My resurrection changed all of that for them... and for you... and "All this happened to fulfill the Scriptures."
Verses to Live

As you read these verses again, notice especially the last sentence. The cross and My resurrection were no accident. They were God's plan... to redeem you!

Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I preached to you when we first met. It's the essential message that you have taken to heart, the central story you now base your life on; and through this gospel, you are liberated — unless, of course, your faith has come to nothing. For I passed down to you the crux of it all which I had also received from others, that the Anointed One, the Liberating King, died for our sins and was buried and raised from the dead on the third day. All this happened to fulfill the Scriptures; it was the perfect climax to God's covenant story.

(1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

Response in Prayer

O Father, thank you for the scriptures. Forgive me when I have taken them lightly and neglected to use them to draw me closer to Jesus and His wonderful gift. I ask that You use the Holy Spirit, Lord Jesus, to help me understand the message inspired by the Spirit's grace. I ask this to honor You — Father, Son, and Spirit — in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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"Core Gospel" — A Year with Jesus for 05/11/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

Today My note is very important because it addresses the very core, the very basis, of your faith. You will find certain phrases in the verses below in bold to help you see the core gospel — the central truth of your faith, the good news that I want preached about Me, and the foundation upon which you are to build your life, your values, and your witness before others. This core gospel is emphasized, proclaimed, and used as the motivation and assurance for faithful living in Paul's letter you know as 1 Corinthians. Notice three elements of the core gospel, because they become the foundation of much of what your New Testament teaches.

Core Gospel Emphasized: The first set of phrases emphasizes the foundational nature of the core gospel — it is "the essential message" and "the central story" and the "gospel" by which "you are liberated" from sin and death because this core gospel is "the crux of it all."

Core Gospel Proclaimed: The second set of phrases is the proclaimed message of the gospel — I, the Christ and "Anointed One, the Liberating King, died for" your sins and "was buried and raised from the dead on the third day" and I also "appeared alive" to many witnesses who knew Me both before and after My resurrection. 

Core Gospel Used to Inspire Faithful Living: The third set of phrases leverages your faith in the good news message about My death, burial, resurrection, and subsequent appearances to inspire and encourage you to holy living — "What matters is ... that you have faith in this message" and that "you now base your life on" this gospel and that you "stay firmly planted — be unshakeable — do many good works" because you know that "your labor" is not wasted, is not in vain, and "is not for nothing."

Verses to Live

I endured death, defeated its hold on you, was raised victoriously back to life, and appeared to those who knew Me best. I did this to help you know that your life matters — not just to you and to those you love, but it matters to the Father. What you do because you are My disciple with never be forgotten! This, beloved, is the core gospel, the good news that saves you. Never let go of your faith in what I have done!

Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I preached to you when we first met. It's the essential message that you have taken to heart, the central story you now base your life on; and through this gospel, you are liberated — unless, of course, your faith has come to nothing. For I passed down to you the crux of it all which I had also received from others, that the Anointed One, the Liberating King, died for our sins and was buried and raised from the dead on the third day. All this happened to fulfill the Scriptures; it was the perfect climax to God's covenant story. Afterward He appeared alive to Cephas (you may know him as Simon Peter), then to the rest of the twelve. If that were not amazing enough, on one occasion, He appeared to more than 500 believers at one time. Many of those brothers and sisters are still around to tell the story, though some have fallen asleep in Jesus. Soon He appeared to James, His brother and the leader of the Jerusalem church, and then to all the rest of the emissaries He Himself commissioned. Last of all, He appeared to me; I was like a child snatched from his mother's womb. You see, I am the least of all His emissaries, not fit to be called His emissary because I hunted down and persecuted God's church. Today I am who I am because of God's grace, and I have made sure that the grace He offered me has not been wasted. I have worked harder, longer, and smarter than all the rest; but I realize it is not me — it is God's grace with me that has made the difference. In the end, it doesn't matter whether it was I or the other witnesses who brought you the message. What matters is that we keep preaching and that you have faith in this message.
...

Sin came into this world, and death's sting followed. Then sin took aim at the law and gained power over those who follow the law. Thank God, then, for our Lord Jesus, the Anointed, the Liberating King, who brought us victory over the grave.

My dear brothers and sisters, stay firmly planted — be unshakable — do many good works in the name of God, and know that all your labor is not for nothing when it is for God

(1 Corinthians 15:1-11; 1 Corinthians 15:56-58)

Response in Prayer

Almighty God, I humble myself before you when I think of Your wondrous grace! Thank You for making the core gospel so plain, so clear, and so powerful. I believe that Jesus died for my sins, that He was buried, and that on the third day that He was raised to life and showed Himself alive to those who knew Him. I choose to offer My life to You to be used to share this core gospel with those who do not yet know of Your saving grace. In Jesus' name I pray and offer myself to You, for Your glory, so that others might be saved. Amen.
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"Faith's Solid Ground" — A Year with Jesus for 05/09/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Disciple,

While many things in life are complicated, saving faith shouldn't be. I want you to know that your faith is on solid ground. My apostle Paul gave a very clear summary of the solid ground of your faith. The gospel, the good news by which you are saved, is solid ground on which to build your life. Notice the key ways Paul emphasizes the trustworthiness of the gospel:
It is "the good news" that Paul "preached" to them.
It is "the essential message" that they had "taken to heart".
They could "base" their lives upon this gospel that had saved, or "liberated," them from sin and death.
Paul had "received" this message as the authoritative truth.
Paul had "passed down" this same message as authoritative truth.

Bottom line, Paul went to great pains to emphasize that the message they believed was the authoritative message of good news and salvation that can be found only in Me.

So what is that message?

What is the good news that brings salvation and liberation from sin and death?

The gospel should be life-altering for you and other Christians, but the facts are simple: I died, was buried, and rose from the dead... for you... to forgive your sins... to give you victory over sin. Because of My sacrifice and your faith, your life matters. The things you do in My name and for My glory will always be remembered. Furthermore, when everything in your life on earth is said and done, you will share in My victory!

Yes, I died for the sins of the world. Yes, I died at the hands of sinners and asked My Father to forgive them. Yet at the foundation of the good news there is this one great reality that you must accept: I did this for you!
Verses to Live

Don't let folks make the truth of the gospel complicated. Realize that I died, was buried, and rose from the dead, victorious over sin and death, for you!

Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I preached to you when we first met. It's the essential message that you have taken to heart, the central story you now base your life on; and through this gospel, you are liberated — unless, of course, your faith has come to nothing. For I passed down to you the crux of it all which I had also received from others, that the Anointed One, the Liberating King, died for our sins and was buried and raised from the dead on the third day. All this happened to fulfill the Scriptures; it was the perfect climax to God's covenant story. Afterward He appeared alive to Cephas (you may know him as Simon Peter), then to the rest of the twelve. If that were not amazing enough, on one occasion, He appeared to more than 500 believers at one time. Many of those brothers and sisters are still around to tell the story, though some have fallen asleep in Jesus. Soon He appeared to James, His brother and the leader of the Jerusalem church, and then to all the rest of the emissaries He Himself commissioned. Last of all, He appeared to me; I was like a child snatched from his mother's womb. You see, I am the least of all His emissaries, not fit to be called His emissary because I hunted down and persecuted God's church. Today I am who I am because of God's grace, and I have made sure that the grace He offered me has not been wasted. I have worked harder, longer, and smarter than all the rest; but I realize it is not me — it is God's grace with me that has made the difference. In the end, it doesn't matter whether it was I or the other witnesses who brought you the message. What matters is that we keep preaching and that you have faith in this message.
...

Sin came into this world, and death's sting followed. Then sin took aim at the law and gained power over those who follow the law. Thank God, then, for our Lord Jesus, the Anointed, the Liberating King, who brought us victory over the grave.

My dear brothers and sisters, stay firmly planted — be unshakable — do many good works in the name of God, and know that all your labor is not for nothing when it is for God

(1 Corinthians 15:1-11; 1 Corinthians 15:56-58)

Response in Prayer

Almighty God — Father, Son, and Spirit — I confess to You that I sometimes lose sight of the fact that all that Jesus did, He did for Me. I know it wasn't for Me only, but it was for Me. He loved, cared, and now has called me to follow Him as I base My life on what He did for Me. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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"Words of Hope and Peace" — A Year with Jesus for 05/08/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Faithful Follower,

I spoke the words you will read in the verses below before I went to the cross. I planted them like seeds into the hearts of My closest followers so that the Spirit of Truth could help them remember all that transpired and all that I had told them. I shared these messages with them on My last evening with them before My arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. They were some of My last words before dying. They are precious to Me. I hope that you will let them be precious to you.

I want you to notice several things that you will find in these words.

First, I acknowledged that the world is a tough place and so I shared these words to do two things for My followers. I wanted them to find true shalom: more than just peace, I wanted them to know that they could be whole and unafraid of the future without My physical presence. I was about to overcome the powers — "the corrupt world order — that had ruined the created universe. My victory over sin and death through My resurrection, coupled with these words, would reassure My disciples and give them peace. I trust they will give you peace as well.

Second, I promised to send the Spirit to them in My physical absence. Rather than My absence being a loss, it is a gain because of My promises and because I have gone back to the Father.
Promise one:
I will send the Spirit to be with them and in them and to give them everything they need from Me.

Promise two:
I will have ascended to the Father, I will present their requests to the Father and they can rest assured that their prayer has been heard.

Third, I laid out the plan for the days ahead.
I will go away — in death on the cross — and they will be scattered and forsake Me but the Father will not forsake Me.
I will come back — I will be raised from the dead to be with them again to help them understand Who I AM and why I have come.
I will return to the Father — I will ascend — but I will continue to be with them through the sending of the Holy Spirit. Their first experience of the Spirit is something that will happen in a small and private way with My first appearance to them (John 20:19-22) where I use language similar to what I use in the verses below. Then there will be a huge experience of the coming of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-41).

My closest followers experienced so many things in just fifty days that I wanted them to have My promises to look back upon as seeds of hope and assurances for the future. While you live thousands of years later, these promises are true for you, too (Acts 2:38-41)!
Verses to Live

As you read these words, please ask for My help. I will empower you and fill you with the Spirit and the Spirit will lead you and guide you in what you read. In fact, these are promises that you will find in these words that I shared with My disciples on the night I was betrayed.

Jesus:
I have so much more to say, but you cannot absorb it right now. The Spirit of truth will come and guide you in all truth. He will not speak His own words to you; He will speak what He hears, revealing to you the things to come and bringing glory to Me. The Spirit has unlimited access to Me, to all that I possess and know, just as everything the Father has is Mine. That is the reason I am confident He will care for My own and reveal the path to you. For a little while you will not see Me; but after that, a time will come when you will see Me again.

Some of His Disciples:
What does He mean? "I'll be here, and then I won't be here, because I'll be with the Father"?

Other Disciples:
What is He saying? "A little while"? We don't understand.

Jesus knew they had questions to ask of Him, so He approached them.

Jesus:
Are you trying to figure out what I mean when I say you will see Me in a little while? I tell you the truth, a time is approaching when you will weep and mourn while the world is celebrating. You will grieve, but that grief will give birth to great joy. In the same way that a woman labors in great pain during childbirth only to forget the intensity of the pain when she holds her child, when I return, your labored grief will also change into a joy that cannot be stolen.

When all this transpires, you will finally have the answers you have been seeking. I tell you the truth, anything you ask of the Father in My name, He will give to you. Until this moment, you have not sought after anything in My name. Ask and you will receive so that you will be filled with joy.

I have been teaching you all of these truths through stories and metaphors, but the time is coming for Me to speak openly and directly of the Father.

The day is coming when you will make a request in My name, but I will not represent you before the Father. You will be heard directly by the Father. The Father loves you because you love Me and know that I come from the Father. I came from the Father into the cosmos, but soon I will leave it and return to the Father.

Disciples:
We hear You speaking clearly and not in metaphors. How could we misunderstand? We see now that You are aware of everything and You reveal things at the proper time. So we do not need to question You, because we believe You have come from God.

Jesus:
So you believe now? Be aware that a time is coming when you will be scattered like seeds. You will return to your own way, and I will be left alone. But I will not be alone, because the Father will be with Me. I have told you these things so that you will be whole and at peace. In this world, you will be plagued with times of trouble, but you need not fear; I have triumphed over this corrupt world order.


(John 16:12-33)


Response in Prayer

Father in heaven, I need the peace and wholeness that Jesus promises here. I know they come from the work of the Holy Spirit on my heart so I ask for the tender mercies, the abiding presence, and strong power of the Spirit to be at work on me and within me. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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"To the Praise of His Glory!" — A Year with Jesus for 05/06/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

One day you will hear the angels sing in celebration around the throne of God (Revelation 5:11-13). Yet I wish you could hear them sing and praise God now. The shepherds heard them the night I was born to Mary (Luke 2:1-14). Yet right now they sing in celebration of My victory over sin and death as they gather around the throne of God anticipating your full redemption from all that is tainted, flawed, broken and mortal (Revelation 5:11; Revelation 7:11).

So until you can share in that glorious day when you join the chorus of angels and all the people of God in celebration of full redemption, I want to point you to a great passage of praise — see the verses below. As Paul wrote to the churches of Asia Minor in the letter you call Ephesians, he begins this letter with an outburst of passionate praise. When he spoke these words of praise to the person writing down his letter, Paul's words poured out of him as if he scarcely took a breath. This wonderful gushing forth of praise is really more song than it was letter-writing!

Verses to Live

Today, I want you to rejoice in the victory that is yours because of the Father's plan and My resurrection from the dead and the presence of the Holy Spirit within you. Let Paul's words of praise guide you, but don't let the praise be confined to what Paul has written. Let the Spirit catch you up on the Wind of heaven's grace and help you plumb the depths and soar to the heights of all that My triumph over sin and death has brought to you! As you read these verses, the portions in bold function as the repeated chorus or refrain for Paul's "Song of God's Glorious Grace"!

Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus the Anointed One, who grants us every spiritual blessing in these heavenly realms where we live in the Anointed — not because of anything we have done, but because of what He has done for us. God chose us to be in a relationship with Him even before He laid out plans for this world; He wanted us to live holy lives characterized by love, free from sin, and blameless before Him. He destined us to be adopted as His children through the covenant Jesus the Anointed inaugurated in His sacrificial life. This was His pleasure and His will for us. Ultimately God is the one worthy of praise for showing us His grace; He is merciful and marvelous, freely giving us these gifts in His Beloved. Visualize this: His blood freely flowing down the cross, setting us free! We are forgiven for our sinful ways by the richness of His grace, which He has poured all over us. With all wisdom and insight, He has enlightened us to the great mystery at the center of His will. With immense pleasure, He laid out His intentions through Jesus, a plan that will climax when the time is right as He returns to create order and unity — both in heaven and on earth — when all things are brought together under the Anointed’s royal rule. In Him we stand to inherit even more. As His heirs, we are predestined to play a key role in His unfolding purpose that is energizing everything to conform to His will. As a result, we — the first to place our hope in the Anointed One — will live in a way to bring Him glory and praise. Because you, too, have heard the word of truth — the good news of your salvation — and because you believed in the One who is truth, your lives are marked with His seal. This is none other than the Holy Spirit who was promised as the guarantee toward the inheritance we are to receive when He frees and rescues all who belong to Him. To God be all praise and glory!

(Ephesians 1:3-14) 

Response in Prayer

Almighty God, you are more glorious than my words can describe and more generous than my heart can receive. So I ask that you accept my meager words and thoughts and receive from the Spirit the emotions my words cannot fully articulate. I love, appreciate, and adore You. May Your Name and Your grace be praised with my thoughts, my words, and my actions, this day and every day to come! Amen.
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"Our Resurrection: Certain and Glorious!" — A Year with Jesus for 05/07/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

The verses for today that you will read below involve a group called the Sadducees. They were trying to trap Me in something they could use to turn people against Me. They were also looking for an excuse to arrest Me. Their question was a tricky one involving marriage called Yibbum or Levirate marriage (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) under the Law of Moses. Levirate marriage was basically a law to protect a widow who had no family to take care of her when her husband died. However, the real issue in the verses below is not so much Levirate marriage as it is the Sadducees' attempt to trap Me. They didn't believe in the resurrection so they made up this crazy scenario to try to show that believing in resurrection from the dead was foolish. So I answered their crazy question with two great answers that silenced them.

One of My answers to their question was that the resurrection life is glorious — life like the angels live — and really can't be compared to the life they lived on earth where there is marriage and giving in marriage. Relationships among My disciples after they are resurrected will be raised up to a new level of glory. They will enjoy the full blessings and privileges of being "children of God and children of the resurrection" with new, immortal bodies that are not subject to death and decay (1 Corinthians 15:50-58).

My main point in this discussion with the Sadducees is that there will be a resurrection life. The resurrection life for My disciples will be glorious and beyond comparing to the best your world can offer. The Father hinted in His statement to Moses that there is this resurrection life. Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, the Father revealed that He is the...
God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. By Moses' time, they were all dead, but God isn't God of the dead, but of the living. So all live to God.


So what do I want you to take away from the reading today?

First, I could use the trick questions of those who hated Me to teach the truth of the resurrection. They could not trick, trap, or defeat Me with their silly religious arguments. Such arguments are not worthwhile and you should avoid them (2 Timothy 2:23-26; Titus 3:9-11).

Second, the resurrection life is more glorious than you can imagine when c! ompared to your earthbound life — you will share in My glory and the glory of the angels of heaven (1 Corinthians 2:6-10; Romans 8:18; Colossians 3:4; cf. Luke 9:26).

Third, God — Father, Son, and Spirit — rules over all people whether they are alive on earth or alive after death. All people "as mortals are appointed to die once and then to experience a judgment ... before the throne of the Anointed, the Liberating King, to receive what is just for our conduct (whether it be good or bad) while we lived in this temporary body ... every knee will bow... every tongue will confess" that I AM Lord "to the glory of God the Father" (Hebrews 9:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Philippians 2:10-11). For you, a child of the Father and My disciple, resurrection will be a glorious event — a time of victory, deliverance, and celebration (2 Timothy 4:8). As the apostle Paul wrote:
On that day when He comes, all the saints in heaven and on earth will celebrate the glory of His power, and all who believe will stand and be amazed — this includes you because you believed us when we testified on His behalf.

(2 Thessalonians 1:10)

Because of My resurrection, you can know that your resurrection is certain and glorious. Don't let a so called bunch of "religious experts" cloud your minds with doubt. Their deceptive trick questions are not aimed at getting to the truth, but are asked to make themselves look better.

Verses to Live

Notice how I turn the question intended to trap Me around and use the Sadducees duplicity to My own advantage. I want you to know and to believe with great assurance that resurrection and glory await all who are My disciples!

Another group came to test Him — this time from the Sadducees, a rival party of the Pharisees, who believe that there is no resurrection.

Sadducees:
Teacher, Moses wrote in the Hebrew Scriptures that a man must marry his brother's wife and the new couple should bear children for his brother if his brother dies without heirs. Well, once there were seven brothers, and the first took a wife and then died without fathering children. The second took her as his wife and then he died childless, and then the third, and so on through the seven. They all died leaving no children. Finally the woman died too. Here's our question: in the resurrection, whose wife will she be, since all seven had her for a while? Will she be the wife of seven men at once?

Jesus:
The children of this era marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain the resurrection of the dead in the coming era do not marry and are not given in marriage. They are beyond mortality; they are on the level of heavenly messengers; they are children of God and children of the resurrection. Since you brought up the issue of resurrection, even Moses made clear in the passage about the burning bush that the dead are, in fact, raised. After all, he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. By Moses' time, they were all dead, but God isn't God of the dead, but of the living. So all live to God.

Religious Scholars:
Teacher, that was a good answer.

After this no one had the courage to ask Him any more questions.

(Luke 20:27-40)

Response in Prayer

O Father, I do not fully understand the glory that awaits me. I confess that. However, the glimpses of this realized grace, this eternal glory that makes even life's worst hardships pale in comparison, lead me to awe and amazement. I pray that You, dear Father, will help me keep my focus on living for Jesus until I share in His glory. In His name I pray. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Mon 05 May 2014, 6:58 pm

"Children of God" — A Year with Jesus for 05/05/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God,

The fifty days between My resurrection and Pentecost were important. I appeared to My closest disciples on several occasions and I appeared to many others during the first forty days before My return to the Father's side. During the ten days after My ascension, My disciples prayed and waited in Jerusalem for the coming of power just as I had told them to do (Acts 1:4). Their growing realization of Who I AM and what this means for all people was preparing them for the coming of the Holy Spirit Who would empower them to be My witnesses.

One of the most important realizations and revelations they experienced was what My death, burial, and resurrection actually meant for them and those who did not yet believe. I had opened a way for people — all people who came to true faith — to become children of God, born "not by human power or initiative but by God's will."

You are My children through faith. When you confessed Me before other people, were baptized calling on My name, and received Me into your life trusting in what I have done for you to save you, then you were given a new set of holy garments — you "clothed yourselves with Christ." You were reborn by the will and the power of the Father. You were filled with the Holy Spirit Who now lives in you. This promise is true for all peoples. It is not confined to one race, one gender, or one social class. If you belong to Me, then all of the Father's incredible promises to Abraham are yours as a spiritual child of Abraham and as a child of God through your faith (Galatians 3:26-29)!

Verses to Live

While it would take a long time for My first followers to fully grasp the incredible power of these truths, My resurrection from the dead opened up God's great and marvelous promises to all whose lives became joined with mine. This promise is still true for you and for all whom God will call and use you to reach. Being a child of God is not determined by race or gender or social class: it is determined by grace received through faith and celebrated in baptism.

The true Light [Jesus], who shines upon the heart of everyone, was coming into the cosmos.

He entered our world, a world He made; yet the world did not recognize Him. Even though He came to His own people, they refused to listen and receive Him. But for all who did receive and trust in Him, He gave them the right to be reborn as children of God; He bestowed this birthright not by human power or initiative but by God's will.

(John 1:9-13)

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

(Galatians 3:26-29 NIV) 

Response in Prayer

Father in heaven, hallowed be Your glorious and powerful Name. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done on earth just as it is in heaven as I offer myself to live for Your kingdom. Please give us today the bread we need to sustain us. Please do not let us be taken captive by the powers of temptation, whether tempted from within by our own desires or from without through the scheming of the evil one. In fact, dear Father, we ask that you deliver us from the power of the evil one. As Your child, I pray this prayer for myself and all who are a part of your family. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Sun 04 May 2014, 7:50 pm

Son of God with Power" — A Year with Jesus for 05/04/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

There are many voices that call out to you and seek to win your heart. There are many distractions in your busy and high-tech culture that can dilute your focus and make you forget your mission. So today, I want My message to you to be clear: My resurrection from the dead changed everything! You've heard Me say that to you in previous notes, but today I want to come back to this important theme.

I AM Who I AM for all eternity — "the One Who is and was and Who is to come" (Revelation 1:4-8; Revelation 22:13-14) — for all eternity. I announced this to Moses when I called him to lead My people to freedom (Exodus 3:1-15).

I AM Who I AM for all eternity and I announced this to My people facing hardship, unfaithfulness, apostasy, and persecution at the end of the first century as I called them to holy living and to be My faithful witnesses even if it cost them their lives (Revelation 21:6-8).

I AM Who I AM for all eternity and I announced this to My disciples repeatedly when I said, "I AM the... bread of life" (John 6:35), "the bread that comes down from heaven" (John 6:37), "the living bread" (John 6:51), "the light of the world" (John 8:12), "the gate for the sheep" (John 10:7-9), "the good shepherd" (John 10:11-14), "the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25 ), "the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6), and "the true vine" (John 15:1-5).

I share these truths with you because there is nothing I needed to do to earn My positio! n and place as Lord. Yet to show Satan, the world of demons, the power structures corrupted by humans that I AM Who I AM for all eternity, I suffered the gross indignities of an illegal trial, physical abuse, and death on a cross but triumphed over death and Satan through My resurrection from the dead. The apostle Paul recognized this sacrifice and triumph as validation of every holy and righteous claim made about Me. As a doubter — one who even considered Me to be a blasphemer — the discovery of My resurrection convicted him of My true identity. He recognized Me as Jesus, the Anointed (Christ and Messiah), and the one true Lord "ultimately designated to be the true Son of God with power upon His resurrection from the dead by the Spirit of holiness."

Paul's life was changed by this astounding revelation of My identity. He spoke of it this way:
But God — who set me apart even before birth and called me by His grace — chose, to His great delight, to reveal His Son in me so I could tell His story among the outsider nations.

(Galatians 1:15-16)

I want this realization, this revelation, to change your life as well!
Verses to Live

Paul's call to live for Me and find the mission of his life in sharing the message of My grace emanated from this revelation — see his declaration of this in the verses below. And now, dear friend, I call you to recognize Me for Who I have always been and forever will be. I want you to respond with your commitment to be a living witness to My grace in your life by sharing that grace with others who do not know Me. Your call may not take you all over the world as Paul's call did with him, but it will most certainly shape the way you live and interact with those around you. Think about all of this as you read of Paul's testimony about his call rooted in My resurrection from the dead.

Paul, a servant of Jesus the Anointed called by God to be His emissary and appointed to tell the good news of the things promised long ago by God, spoken by prophets, and recorded in the Holy Scriptures. All of this good news is about His Son: who was (from a human perspective) born of David's royal line and ultimately designated to be the true Son of God with power upon His resurrection from the dead by the Spirit of holiness. I am speaking of Jesus, the Anointed One, our Lord.

And here's what He's done: He has graced us and sanctioned us as His emissaries whose mission is to spread the one true and obedient faith to all people in the name of Jesus. This includes you: you have been called by Jesus, God's Anointed.

(Romans 1:1-6)

Response in Prayer

Almighty God, the Eternal, the great I AM, please help me understand my call to testify to the grace of Jesus. Open my eyes to the ways I can lovingly and gently influence and lead others to know Jesus and His grace. I claim the promise of Jesus that the Holy Spirit will give me words to say and strength to say them in ways that are effective. I ask for this grace and for the ability to fully discern Your call in My life, in Jesus' name. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Sat 03 May 2014, 9:21 am

"Absolutely Nothing!" — A Year with Jesus for 05/03/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Faithful Follower,

One of David's most beautiful psalms (Psalm 139:1-24) speaks of the abiding presence of your Father in heaven with His children. He knows you inside and out. He knows your thoughts from afar. He knew you when you were unseen and unfelt in your mother's womb. He had a plan for your life and a purpose for your time on earth from your conception. There is no place that you can go that the presence of your loving Father will not go to be with you and be there for you to sustain you as His beloved child. This great psalm has comforted believers for centuries. I hope you will read it several times today and be reminded of how much you are loved by Us — Father, Son, and Spirit.

The apostle Paul also has a chapter in his letter to the Romans that speaks about Our presence in your life through the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-39). The language that Paul uses is complementary to the language of David and is equally as beautiful and reassuring. Here are some of the statements of assurance that Paul gives to you in the verses below. He writes them to help you live as a true child of the Father in a world that groans for redemption and needs the holy presence We promise to give you:
There is no need to fear because We — Father, Son, and Spirit — are on your side in all of your battles.
The Father longs to bless you with everything you need to be My disciple and conform you to My example and bring you into My inheritance.
The Father has declared you "not guilty" so that no one can bring a meaningful charge against you.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, can come between you and the love that We have for you.
No matter what happens, you will share in My victory.
Nothing can come between you and the love the Father has revealed to you through what I did to save you.

"But no matter what comes," Paul says in conclusion to all these promises in the verses below, you "will always taste victory through Him [God] who loved us. For I have every confidence that nothing... can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord." How can you know this is true? How can you trust in these great promises? I provided the assurance you need to answer these questions in becoming flesh, facing temptation, dealing with the fickleness and unfaithfulness of friends, facing persecution and ridicule, and dying as a criminal before being raised victoriously. I came to your world and faced your life's struggles so that you could know I understood them from the side of mortality and vulnerability. Then, I went through death and conquered the power of sin, death, hell, and Satan so you could know that there is not a place I will not go to redeem you, reclaim you, and restore you to My presence.
Verses to Live

The message I want you to hear today is simple, yet profound. You are loved by Us — Father, Son, and Spirit. We will never abandon you. No one and nothing can separate you from Our love. So be confident in the Father's love, My commitment to help you, and the Holy Spirit's presence within you. This is the way the apostle Paul spoke about this to you. I want you to believe it! There is absolutely no one and absolutely nothing that can separate you from Our love for you!

So what should we say about all of this? If God is on our side, then tell me: whom should we fear? If He did not spare His own Son, but handed Him over on our account, then don't you think that He will graciously give us all things with Him? Can anyone be so bold as to level a charge against God's chosen? Especially since God's "not guilty" verdict is already declared. Who has the authority to condemn? Jesus the Anointed who died, but more importantly, conquered death when He was raised to sit at the right hand of God where He pleads on our behalf. So who can separate us? What can come between us and the love of God's Anointed? Can troubles, hardships, persecution, hunger, poverty, danger, or even death? The answer is, absolutely nothing. As the psalm says,
On Your behalf, our lives are endangered constantly; we are like sheep awaiting slaughter.

But no matter what comes, we will always taste victory through Him who loved us. For I have every confidence that nothing — not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, height, depth, nor any created thing — can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord.

(Romans 8:31-39)

Response in Prayer

O Father of grace, in Your mercy You have repeatedly demonstrated Your love for me. I trust that You are near me no matter what happens in my life or how I feel at the moment. I thank You for the empowering presence of Your Holy Spirit to heal, renew, and abide within me. I pray for strength to believe the truths I have heard from Your word — to believe not just in the good and easy times, but in the hardest and most trying moments of my life. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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