Charles Stanley – Understanding Jesus’ Sacrifice

 Matthew 26:36-46

Jesus journeyed into the deepest pit of despair hours before His crucifixion. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He repeatedly prayed for “the cup” to pass from Him (Matt. 26:39-44).

Christ was staring into a chalice of wrath and judgment that must have made His soul recoil (Isa. 51:17). Mankind had filled it with the most depraved deeds and thoughts that they could conceive. According to Scripture, Jesus Christ did not just die for our sin; He became our sin (2 Cor. 5:21). The holy, perfect Lamb of God took upon Himself all that was vile and dark.

Furthermore, Jesus knew the consequences of taking on mankind’s evil. God’s holiness prevented Him from being in the presence of sin. Therefore, the heavenly Father would have to separate Himself from the Son. Jesus had always enjoyed perfect oneness with God. To contemplate a wrenching rejection must have been terrifying and heartbreaking.

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Our Daily Bread — The Power of God’s Music

Read: Colossians 3:12-17

Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 1-2; Mark 10:1-31

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly . . . with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. —Colossians 3:16

The Sound of Music, one of the most successful musical films ever produced, was released as a motion picture in 1965. It won many accolades, including five Academy Awards, as it captured the hearts and voices of people around the world. More than half a century later, people still attend special showings of the film where viewers come dressed as their favorite character and sing along during the performance.

Music is deeply rooted in our souls. And for followers of Jesus, it is a powerful means of encouraging each other along the journey of faith. Paul urged the believers in Colossae, “Let Christ’s teaching live in your hearts, making you rich in the true wisdom. Teach and help one another along the right road with your psalms and hymns and Christian songs, singing God’s praises with joyful hearts” (Col. 3:16 Phillips).

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John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Cleansing Our Hands and Hearts

“Cleanse your hands . . . and purify your hearts” (James 4:8).

Clean hands and a pure heart will always characterize the humble.

Hands represent our behavior, the pattern of our outward actions. Scripture uses that symbol when it encourages people to abandon their sinful behavior: “So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you, yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of bloodshed” (Isa. 1:15).

Today’s verse uses “hands” in reference to the Jewish ceremonial requirements. The priests were required to wash their hands before they entered the presence of God in the tabernacle and temple (Ex. 30:19-21). Therefore, a call to have clean hands was not just a strange figure of speech for James’s audience. As Jews, they would know that a person needed to go through a cleansing process and have a clean life if he wanted to be close to the Lord.

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Wisdom Hunters – God Interruption 

The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”    Jonah 1:1-2

God may be interrupting your plans. He does this from time to time according to His will. You were going in one direction, and He stopped you in your tracks and led you in an about-face. It can be disconcerting and more than a little scary. But do not be surprised if this happens to you. Your current path may be the opposite of what He intended. Maybe you got in a hurry and ran ahead without Him or maybe you have been reluctant to move forward and missed Him. Either way, the Holy Spirit has now arrested your attention and is leading you into uncharted waters. Like Phillip, you are an agent of God (Acts 8:29). You may be uncomfortable with the assignment because of the novelty in its nuances.  God is moving you out of your comfort zone and into His arena of obedience. If you disobey and stay put, you jeopardize proclaiming Jesus to the fullest.

The consequences of disobedience are not isolated to you alone. They ripple throughout your relationships. Don’t wait for people to be hurt before you say yes to heaven’s directive. God interrupts for a reason and for a season. The reason may be to protect you from a convergence of bad decision-making. You don’t know what’s around the corner in your life, but He does. He is watching out for you, so this severe turn in His will may be to protect you from a pattern of bad behavior. Do not allow pride to keep you from changing your mind. Promptings from the Holy Spirit make pride uncomfortable because it means giving up control and submitting in humility. If you continue to drive forward in pride, you are destined for unnecessary pain (Ecclesiastes 2:23). Take this interruption as a sign from God to slow down, reevaluate, and recalibrate.

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Joyce Meyer – Lay It on the Altar

…God tested and proved Abraham and said to him, Abraham! And he said, Here I am. [God] said, Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I will tell you. —Genesis 22:1-2

Once the Lord said to me, “Joyce, do you love Me? If so, will you still love Me and serve Me even if I don’t do everything just the way you want or just when you think I should?” At the time of the Lord’s visitation, I had been asking God for a huge ministry. He also said, “Joyce, if I asked you to go down to the riverfront here in St. Louis and minister to fifty people for the rest of your life and never be known by anyone, would you do it?” My response was, “But, Lord, surely you can’t really be asking me to do that!”

We always have such grandiose plans for ourselves. If God asks us to do something that isn’t prominent, we aren’t always sure we are hearing Him correctly or that it is His will for us! When God asked me those questions about my ministry, I felt the way I imagined Abraham must have felt when the Lord asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac through whom He had promised to bless him and all nations of the earth (see Genesis 22).

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – No Longer Under Law

“So there is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

What an exciting fact! We are no longer under the law. We have been liberated from the bondage of trying to please God through our self-effort.

What is our motivation under grace? Under law our motivation was fear, and desire for reward and blessing; under grace, our basic motivation is an expression of gratitude – an inward appreciation and response to God’s love and grace.

Why do we do what we do as Christians? We should respond because we, like the apostle Paul, are constrained by the love of Christ. We live for the glory of God. You will remember that the apostle Paul had been beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, starved, buffeted, criticized and condemned, yet he said, “The love of Christ constrains me.”

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Ray Stedman – To Live or Die?

Read: Philippians 1:19-26

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! Phil 1:21-22

The Christian view of death is given in just four words in this passage: with Christ, far better. That sums it up. But before we look closer at that, it’s important that we see what this man’s view of life is, because these are not the words of a man who is sighing after heaven but resigned to living on earth. This is not the utterance of someone who is fed up with living and couldn’t take life any longer so now the only hope is that heaven is close at hand. For Paul, to live is Christ, and that is exciting! Living, he says, means fruitful labor, in which I can take the greatest delight. The prospect of continuing to live is not an unwelcome prospect here, in fact he says I hardly know which to choose, both prospects are so enticing and inviting. The Christian is not so neurotically desirous of death that he no longer wants to live. We sometimes give the wrong impression. We sing these wonderful songs about the glory up there but sometimes, unfortunately, Christians leave the impression that this is really all they’re living for is what comes at the end.

The Christian does not live with some unutterable longing to escape, to evade life, to run from it. No! Paul is not at all saying that! He says, to live is Christ — I love it! And evidently the Spirit of God tips the scale here in favor of life, so he goes on to say, convinced of this I know that I shall remain, and continue with you all — because you need me and I will have the joy of coming to you again. But facing the possibility of death does not mean he is tired of life, but that death can only mean a more wonderful and deeper companionship with Christ. That is what makes life worth living. He says, to die is gain, and you can only say that if you are prepared to say, to live is Christ!

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Do You Want To Be Healed?

Read: John 5:1-9

He said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” (v. 6)

She never knew it, but behind her back people called her Boo-Hoo, because she was always talking about how badly she’d been treated in life. She’d been cheated, mistreated, shortchanged, passed by, unfairly dealt with. Other people always got the big break she deserved. Nobody gave her a chance. Nobody understood her. Nobody appreciated her. It’s like she had a tape player in her head, and whenever she opened her mouth out came this sad song. Boo-Hoo.

“Do you want to be healed?” Jesus asks. And immediately, out comes the tale of woe: “I have no one to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up . . . while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus doesn’t offer sympathy. He doesn’t commiserate. All Jesus wants to know is: “Do you want to be healed?”

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Presidential Prayer Team; – First Person Testimony

He is alive! He’s risen! Jesus lives! Up from the grave He arose! When Easter comes around, you hear many of these phrases from Christians. More than likely, you’ll see them posted on social media with images of the cross or an empty tomb. As powerful as those statements are, they are in third person. How much more powerful are they when spoken in the first person from the lips of Jesus Himself?

The living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore.

Revelation 1:17-18

Today’s passage is spoken by Jesus. It’s not one of the disciples saying, “He is alive!” It’s the Son of God Himself stating the truth – and that’s a powerful testimony! The apostle John heard this straight from His Lord – and you can, too! “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

Jesus is alive and sits at the right hand of God. Give thanks today for your risen Savior. You serve a God who lives in your life and in the lives of Christ-following Americans. Pray that your national leaders will hear the truth from the Almighty – in first person.

Recommended Reading: Romans 10:5-13

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Never Again Remembered

Today’s Scripture: Isaiah 43:25

“I will not remember your sins.”

Not only has God blotted out our sins, he has further promised never to remember our sins, never to bring them to his mind again.

What an overwhelming thought! What joy this should bring to our hearts. Think of one of your more recent sins, of which you’re now ashamed. It may have been an unkind word, a resentful attitude, or a lustful thought. Whatever it might be, God says he has put it out of his mind; he remembers it no more.

To remember no more is God’s way of expressing absolute forgiveness. In Hebrews 8:12 (which quotes Jeremiah 31:34), God said, “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (NIV). And again in Hebrews 10:17-18, he said, “?heir sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.’ and where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin” (NIV). Note that in both passages “remembering no more” is equated with forgiveness.

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Killing Giants

Today’s Scripture: Numbers 13-16

“I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.” – Matthew 21:21

In Numbers 13, we arrive at a memorable and melancholy moment in the life of the people of God. Just when they were about to set foot in the Promised Land, they turn back from the borders of Canaan and are sentenced to wander and perish in the wilderness for their sin of unbelief and their complaining spirits.

You remember the story. Twelve leaders were dispatched to spy out the land. They had been charged with the responsibility of finding out whether the inhabitants of the land were strong or weak; whether the land was good or bad; whether the cities were fortified or simply a cluster of tents; whether it was a bountiful land. After forty days, they returned.

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – JESUS, SON OF JOSEPH

Read Luke 4:1-30

For four years, Rob Ford was the scandal of the city of Toronto. Ford was caught texting while driving. He associated with people of ill repute, including drug dealers and convicted criminals. Ford often showed up drunk to public festivals and city events. What made Ford’s actions even more unconscionable was this: he was the city’s mayor.

Our key verse today reminds us why Scripture forbids drunkenness. We must be filled—not with wine but with the Holy Spirit. In his biographical record, Luke often emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit in the unfolding good news of Jesus: the angel promises Zechariah that John will be filled with the Holy Spirit; Mary will conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit; Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit when she greets Mary and the holy baby in her womb (1:41); Zechariah, Simeon, Anna, and John the Baptist are all filled with the Spirit as part of the long line of prophetic heralds of good tidings.

Jesus, Son of Joseph, is no exception to the witness of the Holy Spirit’s role in the plan of salvation. Filled with the Holy Spirit, He was led into the wilderness. Forty days later, this seemingly ordinary carpenter’s son returned in the power of the Holy Spirit and preached to the gathered crowd at the Nazareth synagogue.

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