Daily Devotions Archive - April 2009

April 1, 2009: Peace Surpassing All Understanding

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7

There is a LOT of power in these two verses! Just pray and trust God completely and He will give you that peace which surpasses all understanding. It sounds simple; unfortunately, most of us make it much more difficult than it needs to be. We try to do things our own way instead of praying; we worry over things instead of trusting God. On a personal level, I rarely worry about anything but it's still hard for me to remember to pray about everything and to trust God completely with every little thing. But if we can do that, God does promise us incredible peace. That's something that I feel like I have experienced from time to time, and I can assure you that God's peace is beyond amazing. It's not easy to do this in our daily lives, for me or for any of you. I wish I had the secret formula to offer you, but I don't. I would simply encourage you to remember that God is always in control and He always has your best interests at heart--two very good reasons to trust Him completely.



April 2, 2009: Pure Thinking, Part 1 of 2

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. - Philippians 4:8-9

Keeping our minds on pure thoughts...that's certainly not easy in a society where there seems to be something intented to appeal to people sexually around every corner! Yet Paul's words still stand. No matter how difficult it is and even knowing that we're likely to fail from time to time, it's still well worth the effort. Sinful, lustful thoughts can be quick to invade, and that's just the way Satan wants it. But if you start giving into those thoughts, they become more and more difficult to resist and eventually may overtake you completely. Paul isn't trying to keep us from "having fun" when he says this; instead, he is trying to keep us from hurting ourselves, because that is always the result of heading down such a path. (To be continued tomorrow...)



April 3, 2009: Pure Thinking, Part 2 of 2

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. - Philippians 4:8-9

(Continued from yesterday...) There is also a promise associated with Paul's wise advice. If we do manage to keep our minds pure, he tells us that the God of peace will be with us. That really makes sense, too, doesn't it? God can't be close to you if you're trapped in sin and unpure thinking--God never moves, of course, but you are choosing to push Him away. Yet if you are able to stay pure in mind and body, you are living a more Christ-centered life and you're letting God remain close to you. Purity also leads to peace, because you aren't being controlled by your desires, always looking for the next "high" of some sort. Calmness and peace automatically result from keeping your mind pure. It definitely seems worth the effort to me, and I hope it does to you, too!



April 6, 2009: Christ Really Died for...Us?

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:6-8

Verse 8 is frequently quoted, but how often do we really stop to think about the significance of this passage of Scripture? It's rare enough that one human would die to help save a friend, though such acts of heroism do occur from time to time. But Jesus, the only perfect human to ever walk on the earth, loves us all so much that He died for each and every one of us. He died for the Christian who loves Jesus wholeheartedly, yet is still a sinner. He also died for the ungodly person who unknowingly uses His name in vain and perhaps doesn't even believe He exists. Can you imagine anyone else doing that? I can't. That is the kind of unconditional love that only comes from God.



April 7, 2009: The Plot to Kill Jesus

Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him. But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, "What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation." - John 11:45-48

Some things remain the same even 2,000 years later. Why did the chief priests and Pharisees want to kill Jesus? They didn't even stop to consider for a moment that maybe He was the Son of God and perhaps they should listen to Him and follow Him. Just as is the case with so many people today, they were so caught up in their own lives and agendas that nothing else seemed to matter. They were jealous, afraid, intimidated, among other things. But perhaps most significantly, they felt like they were supposed to be in control, and they didn't like someone else coming in over them. The chief priests of that day knew the Old Testament as well as anyone, yet they were so caught up in furthering their own agendas that they completely missed the promised Messiah. Don't get so caught up in your own life that you miss Jesus just like they did.



April 8, 2009: A Servant Above All Else

So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. - John 13:12-17

Jesus is the Son of God--the closest being to God that has ever walked this Earth. Yet He knelt down in front of His disciples and washed their feet, and this was just one of many times when He acted as a servant. Why? One reason was to teach us something that we too often forget. As Christians, our first priority should not be to serve our own interests. Instead, we should serve God first and others second, putting ourselves last. If we all did that, this world would be an infinitely better place. If just one person changes and starts to put God and others first, that one person can still make a tremendous difference in the lives of others. Remember that Jesus didn't die for Himself; He died for each one of us.



April 9, 2009: Simon Peter's Denials

Peter said to Him, "Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake." Jesus answered him, "Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times. ... Now Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, "You are not also one of His disciples, are you?" He denied it and said, "I am not!" One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, "Did I not see you in the garden with Him?" Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed. - John 13:37-38; 18:25-27

How quickly some people back down from what they stand for when put under pressure. This took place after Jesus had been arrested, when His disciples weren't sure what was going to happen. Simon Peter could have stood up and admitted to following Christ, but instead he lied and denied it. You may not literally deny knowing Jesus today, but the way you live your life may make people wonder. The moral of the story: Don't just follow Jesus when it's easy, follow Him also when it's hard and unpopular. He promises to reward you for it, and you'll also have a more positive impact on the people around you.



April 10, 2009: Jesus Died For Us

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I thirst!" Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. - John 19:28-30

Jesus died for us. All Christians know that, but how often do we really think about it? On this Good Friday, I encourage you to take at least a few moments to really stop and think about that fact. He is the Son of God. Yet for a time He was a human--sinless, but just like you and me in many ways. He was put on trial and conviced even though He did nothing wrong. He was humiliated--the very Son of God, beaten, mocked, and forced to carry His own cross. Nails were driven through His body and ultimately He died for each one of us. Through it all, He didn't waver. He knew what His purpose was and He fulfilled that purpose completely and perfectly. Jesus died for us. It's easy to acknowledge that and take it for granted; I've done that plenty of times myself. But we should never underestimate what He did for us and all the suffering He had to endure. No word can accurately describe that kind of unconditional love that He has for each one of us.



April 11, 2009: Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I thirst!" Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. - John 19:28-30

Sacrifice of some sort atones for sins. We see this all the way through the Old Testament. Why did God set it up like this? I'm not sure exactly, but sometimes we need to remember that He is God and we can't understand everything He does. Whatever the reason, that's how it has always been. God is perfectly holy and cannot just ignore our sin, but He also loves us so much that He wanted to make a way for us to be forgiven. Therefore, it is only logical that the ultimate atonement for all our sins would have to come in the form of the ultimate sacrifice--God's one and only Son. There could be no other way, from God's perspective. Sometimes I wonder if God made it too easy for us, and if that's why we often don't take sin as seriously as we should today. Nevertheless, He did make it easy because He loves us, and we should never take God's ultimate gift to us for granted.



April 12, 2009: He Is Risen!

But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him." Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, "Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him, "Rabboni!" (which is to say, Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God. " Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her. - John 20:11-18



April 13, 2009: Easter Prophecies & Parallels

This week we are taking a look at passages from the Old Testament that are closely related to parts of the Easter story in the New Testament. Some of these include fulfilled prophecies. I always find parallels and prophecy fulfillments very interesting to learn about and I hope you do as well!

Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. - Psalm 41:9
Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. So he sought how he might conveniently betray Him. - Mark 14:10-11

They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots. - Psalm 22:18
Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be," that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: "They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots." Therefore the soldiers did these things. - John 19:23-24




April 14, 2009: Easter Prophecies & Parallels

This week we are taking a look at passages from the Old Testament that are closely related to parts of the Easter story in the New Testament. Some of these include fulfilled prophecies. I always find parallels and prophecy fulfillments very interesting to learn about and I hope you do as well!

All those who see Me ridicule Me; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, "He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him; let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!" - Psalm 22:7-78
And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified. ... And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, "You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross." - Matthew 27:31, 39-40

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? - Psalm 22:1
Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" - Matthew 27:45-46




April 15, 2009: Easter Prophecies & Parallels

This week we are taking a look at passages from the Old Testament that are closely related to parts of the Easter story in the New Testament. Some of these include fulfilled prophecies. I always find parallels and prophecy fulfillments very interesting to learn about and I hope you do as well!

He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. (see Matthew 27:11-14) He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. - Isaiah 53:3-8



April 16, 2009: Easter Prophecies & Parallels

This week we are taking a look at passages from the Old Testament that are closely related to parts of the Easter story in the New Testament. Some of these include fulfilled prophecies. I always find parallels and prophecy fulfillments very interesting to learn about and I hope you do as well!

And they made His grave with the wicked--but with the rich at His death (see Matthew 27:57-61), because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. - Isaiah 53:9-12



April 17, 2009: Easter Prophecies & Parallels

This week we are taking a look at passages from the Old Testament that are closely related to parts of the Easter story in the New Testament. Some of these include fulfilled prophecies. I always find parallels and prophecy fulfillments very interesting to learn about and I hope you do as well!

He guards all his bones; not one of them is broken. - Psalm 34:20
"And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn." - Zechariah 12:10

Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, "Not one of His bones shall be broken." And again another Scripture says, "They shall look on Him whom they pierced." - John 19:32-37




April 18, 2009: Easter Prophecies & Parallels

This week we are taking a look at passages from the Old Testament that are closely related to parts of the Easter story in the New Testament. Some of these include fulfilled prophecies. I always find parallels and prophecy fulfillments very interesting to learn about and I hope you do as well!

For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. - Psalm 16:10-11

"Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses." - Acts 2:29-32




April 19, 2009: Easter Prophecies & Parallels

This week we are taking a look at passages from the Old Testament that are closely related to parts of the Easter story in the New Testament. Some of these include fulfilled prophecies. I always find parallels and prophecy fulfillments very interesting to learn about and I hope you do as well!

The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. - Psalm 118:22

Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, "Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame." Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone." - 1 Peter 2:4-7