Casual at the Foot of the Cross

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Day 46 (Category: Salvation)

Today’s Reading: Lev. 17-18, Matt. 27:27-50

Today’s Reflection: Matt. 27:36 And sitting down they watched him there;

When I read this verse, I am confounded. Knowing the gravity of the hour, and understanding that at this very moment in history, the Christ child is giving His life a ransom for many; knowing that, as The Lamb of God, He is paying our sin debt with His own blood, the text seems to suggest a disturbing level of casualness amongst the soldiers who nailed Him there. So, on one hand we have the single most significant moment in all of time and eternity, and on the other hand, we have those looking on, as if totally clueless to what is actually happening. Dear reader, is your soul also at ease beneath the foot of the cross? Do you also, with rested posture and careless ease, look on as if Christ’s death is but another pointless day in the life of a soul grown numb to tragedy and pain? Oh, but listen! Do not make the tragic mistake of watching the Lamb while missing the opportunity for redemption. While you look upon Him, understand that your sin put Him there, and that His blood will wash away that same sin in a simple prayer of repentance and faith. While you are so close to Calvary’s flow, be plunged in His blood and be made as white as snow! Not one unrighteous soul has come with his sin for cleansing, only to return disappointed. No, all who come with all, leave with none! He will not only wash some of you, but all of you! Friends, we are not just to watch Him there; we are to embrace Him there. In this moment of time, perhaps the greatest scripture of all is fulfilled in Christ, namely, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus taught us here in John 15:13 what the greatest level of love would look like, and then He set the example by living out what He preached. Do you realize the depth of Christ’s love for you as He hangs there on the cross while you watch? If it ever occurs to you, like it has so many others, you too will be forever changed by His love. For, you see, while you are watching Him die on the cross, even more importantly, He has been watching you! Can you see the love in His eyes as He watches to see when you might give your heart to Him? Know assuredly that if you will call on Him today while He is near, He will save you by His grace, and your gazing at the cross will turn to your redemption!

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Hypocrisy at its worst...

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Day 45 (Category: Hypocrisy)

Today’s Reading: Lev. 15-16, Matt. 27:1-26

Today’s Reflection: Matt. 27:6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.

How thoughtful! Just look at their sensitivity to spirituality…they don’t want to put blood money into the treasury, because it’s not lawful; but of course, it’s ok to CRUCIFY THE PRINCE OF LIFE!! Really??? I don’t think so! Just think of the insanity behind this kind of logic. This is the crowd Jesus was talking about when He said in Matt. 23:24, “Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.” How much crazier can it get? We’ve all known them; people who have much bigger problems of their own to deal with than what they choose to focus on. Maybe, just maybe, one of those people you know is the one in the mirror! We have to be willing to ask ourselves the tough questions. We have to be willing to be harder on ourselves than we are others. And we have to stop pretending to be so spiritual that we’re blinded to our own tendencies to, in essence, crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame with our hypocrisy. Back to our text; how can the chief priests be so blind that on one hand, they’ll bribe someone to betray someone so that they can get rid of him, while on the other hand, acknowledge that it would be just wrong to take the blood money and donate it to the church? We just can’t go there! So let’s get this straight, you’re ok with bribery, betrayal, and crucifixion, but you’re concerned with how it would look to put the wrong kind of money in the offering plate? Something is BAD wrong here! And the sad reality is, this kind of stuff goes on in our churches all across the world all the time! There are people who pay their tithes and attend their churches, but then omit what’s really important, such as living with discretion, having mercy, and honoring God by walking in faith (see Matt. 23:23). My prayer today is that God would help us not to be hypocrites. A hypocrite is indeed a hypocrite because of his misguided motives. He does not truly participate in religious activity because of his supposed “sincerity”, but really because he just wants to be seen in his act of religion at the moment, so that others will think more highly of him than they should. May God help us to repent of any hypocrisy in our lives immediately!

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Have you fled the scene of your last real spiritual battle? Read more...

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Day 44 (Category: Spiritual Warfare)

Today’s Reading: Lev. 14, Matt. 26:51-75

Today’s Reflection: Matt.26:56b …Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

The disciples were in over their heads! Peter, ready to fight with a sword, was rebuked by our Lord for doing so. Perhaps the reason all of the disciples so quickly fled the scene was because of their lack of understanding of how to fight the battle at hand. In their minds, Christ just took from them the only defensive weapon they had, and so it becomes apparent that since they could not respond according to their own understanding, that they had no idea how to respond otherwise. This was new battleground for them; a new concept, if you will. Christ is shifting their focus from the natural realm to the spiritual realm, teaching them of spiritual warfare. I know that they didn’t understand spiritual warfare yet, because Jesus had to convince Peter that, even though they were not to use their swords, they were still protected by God. Did He not mention that all He had to do was pray to His Father, and His Father would presently give Him more than twelve legions of angels? Christ was helping Peter understand that spiritual battles must be fought spiritually, and since neither Peter nor any of the other disciples knew how to do that, they fled the scene! What about you? Have there been any recent spiritual battles going on in your life that so intimidated you, that you quickly fled the scene, rather than trusting God and seeking His counsel on how to do battle spiritually so as to win? If so, you are not alone, for there are many today who not only have fled the scene, but have yet to return. Today, however, I believe that God is calling us back to the scene from which we fled. Yes, it may be bigger than us, but it is not bigger than our God! Like Joshua, I believe God would speak to us in no uncertain terms, and say to us, “Only be thou strong and very courageous!” You see, as long as we stick by Jesus’ side, we have the same protections that His Father affords Him. That is why we must learn how to fight right, rather than fighting wrong, or attempting to avoid conflict altogether simply because we do not understand how to battle. Christ is our teacher, and if we will listen and obey, He will teach us how to win, and win every time! Let’s get back in the fight, fight right, and fight to win! Let Christ teach you how to war.

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A lesson from Jesus Himself on the significance of praise...

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Day 43 (Category: Praise)

Today’s Reading: Lev. 13, Matt. 26:26-50

Today’s Reflection: Matt.26:30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

Now there’s an image most of us probably don’t think a whole lot about. Get this; Jesus is fixing to go into his greatest hour of agonizing prayer, where he will sweat as it were great drops of blood. He has already warned the disciples that he will soon be betrayed by Judas, and that all of them will be offended because of him the same night. He knows his hour has come. And what do does he do? He sings a hymn with his disciples before going into his hour of betrayal. Wow! Just think of the fortitude, the resilience, the calmness of heart and spirit, and the resolve with which our Lord led them into the valley of the shadow of death. Most of us probably would have been too upset to be singing a song, but Jesus our Lord leads the way with a song of praise! After all, that is what a hymn is. Now, I just can’t help but wonder what they were singing! We might readily imagine it to be something like “Victory in Jesus”, “At Calvary”, or “There’s Room at the Cross for You!”, but it was more likely one of the Psalms, or a song inspired by the Psalms. The specific song and its rhythm and style of music is not as important as is the fact that they were singing in such a dark hour of history. Jesus is fixing to win the greatest spiritual battle that ever has been or ever will be waged for the souls of men while on the cross of Calvary, and his actions give us insight on what it looks like to go into a battle with assurance of certain victory. How does he do that? He sings praises going into the storm! After carefully thinking upon this great truth, I believe we have for years mistakenly and carelessly overlooked its significance. The truth is, God likes to hear us sing praises to His name, and when the praises of God go up, His glory comes down to strengthen us in our battles. If this was a battle strategy for Christ and His disciples, would it not be wise for us to do the same? Here is my challenge for you today; the next time you are facing a difficult time (and every time from here on out for that matter), deliberately sing praises to The Lord going into the storm. Amazing things will happen! God will come to your aid, and certain victory will ensue. Never underestimate the power of praise, because praise will work when nothing else will!

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What is your price for Jesus? Read more...

Day 42 (Category: Betrayal)

Today’s Reading: Lev. 11-12, Matt. 26:1-25

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Today’s Reflection: Matt.26:15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.

What is your price for Jesus? Here, Judas sold Jesus to the lowest bidder! He didn’t even name his price; he simply asked, “What will ye give me?” Perhaps he had a minimum in his mind, but was feeling them out to see what they would pay, but regardless, here’s the point; Judas sold Jesus out for temporary monetary gain. This makes me think of all those today that are still doing the same thing. From the pulpit to the pew to the general population, people still have their price they’ll take for Jesus. I trust that you are not one of them, but the sad reality is, they are all around us. I mentioned the pulpit, because there are those in positions of authority in our so-called churches today who are willing to compromise every truth Jesus stood for, simply to please the people and pad the purse. When this happens, Christ is no less betrayed than if He were back in the garden with Judas. I mentioned the pew, because of many today that would rather have a motivational speaker than a gospel preacher. Don’t get me wrong; both have their place, but the Bible prophesied of the day in which we live where men heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. They turn their ears away from the truth, and are turned rather unto fables. In essence, they betray Christ by their lack of interest in His person and message of the cross. I also mentioned the general population, because Christ said Himself that men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. These, too, betray Christ by rejecting the light of His glorious gospel. And though all these are true, perhaps the more subtle way in which we betray Him is when we neglect to keep His commandments. Did He not say, “If ye love me, keep my commandments!”? I understand that we all make mistakes; that’s not what I’m dealing with. I’m dealing with the times in which we deliberately ignore the teachings of Christ for the conveniences that are afforded us for doing so. May it be our prayer today that we search our souls, and make sure that we are not betraying our Lord in our thoughts, words, or actions. My Jesus is not for sale! How about you?

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What you are holding back from God is linked to what God is holding back from you! Read more...

Day 41 (Category: God’s Will)

Today’s Reading: Lev. 8-10, Matt. 25:31-46

Today’s Reflection: Lev. 8:33 And ye shall not go out of the door of the tabernacle of the congregation in seven days, until the days of your consecration be at an end: for seven days shall he consecrate you.

Has your consecration been completed? I know we don’t do things today like they were done during the Old Testament era; however, within this text is found a principle which is applicable to us all as believers. The truth is, when we are bought by the blood of Christ, we are His property, and therefore He sets us apart for His purposes; however, we must be willing to participate in this process, that we “die not” (see v. 35). This means that we only begin to live when we discover God’s purpose for our existence and begin to walk therein. But before we say more, let us answer the question, what is consecration? To consecrate, according to Webster, means “to make or declare to be sacred, by certain ceremonies or rites; to appropriate to sacred uses; to set apart, dedicate, or devote, to the service and worship of God; as, to consecrate a church.” A similar word used more commonly in the New Testament is the word “sanctify”, but basically, you get the idea that you as a child of God are supposed to be different. You are supposed to be set aside for the specific purpose of bringing glory to God with your presence on this Earth. That said, I ask the question again, has your consecration been completed? Meaning, are you truly and wholly set aside for God, or like many Christians today, only partially consecrated? I know we all have a long way to go, but that does not negate our responsibility as His children to make sure that we are entirely sold out to Him, imperfections and all! Could there be areas in your life that are supposed to be His that you have yet to yield to His rightful place of ownership and control? I wish to challenge you as I have personally been challenged myself this morning by The Holy Spirit, that you search out your soul and ask God to help you thoroughly and completely sanctify and set apart EVERY area that has not been brought to that place of total surrender as of yet. It could be tithing, giving, loving, forgiving, repenting, praying, witnessing, or a number of things, but whatever it is, please understand that you will never experience the life God wants to bless you with outside of that place of total surrender to His will and purpose for your life! Let us be consecrated wholly to Him!

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And who said you can't fix stupid?

Day 40 (Category: Wisdom)

Today’s Reading: Lev. 6-7, Matt. 25:1-30

Today’s Reflection: Matt. 25:3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

The phrase “living on empty” comes to mind when I read this verse. To be honest, even that doesn’t really do it justice, because this kind of “living” isn’t really living at all; it is rather a slow, painful death when you truly consider it. Think with me, if you will, of the people you know (if not yourself) who are living on empty. That is, they are merely a shell of a person without any essence, substance, or meaning to their existence. People who live only for the moment, without any caution or heed of pending danger or consequence, will always be found lacking what it takes to survive this life, much less the life in the hereafter. Let us consider first the name they were given; foolish. This word literally means dull, stupid, heedless, or absurd. The question I’m asking is, were they called foolish because they took no oil with them, or did they take no oil with them because they were foolish? I am in favor of the latter, simply because of the fact that Jesus first mentioned their condition, and then mentioned the symptoms resulting from their condition. The sickness was foolishness; the result was poor decision-making. In other words, if you can fix the foolishness, then you can eliminate the symptoms! How then do we “fix stupid”? We go to The Word of God! Ps. 119:105 still says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Prov. 1:7 also says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” So, if you want to learn how to avoid future crisis as a result of foolish living, then look no further than the guidelines of the scriptures and the voice of The Holy Spirit in your life! Oil, being symbolic of The Holy Spirit, also teaches us in this passage that without The Holy Spirit in our lives, we will continue to live on empty and be found wanting when Christ returns. What about you? Do you ignore the guidance of scripture and the leading of The Spirit, while simultaneously throwing all caution to the wind in your quest for a quick fix or a good time? If so, let this be your warning that while you’re playing games with your life, the bridegroom is coming! Have you made your preparations to meet with Him? If not, you can do so today! Surrender to Christ once and for all!

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How to be a dependable disciple of Christ!

Day 39 (Category:  Discipleship)

Today’s Reading: Lev. 4-5, Matt. 24:29-51

Today’s Reflection: Matt. 24:45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47 Verily I say unto you, that he shall make him ruler over all his goods.

When I read this text, the phrase that stands out most to me today is “to give them meat in due season”. In context, this is the servant’s assignment; to faithfully and wisely distribute meat in a timely manner. What about you? Have you been faithful and wise in distributing the Word of God to others in a timely fashion? If you’re like me, this thought brings much conviction. I automatically start thinking about how short I fall of all three of these guidelines. First, what about faithfulness? This speaks of a constant performance of duties or services. Second, what about wisdom? This speaks of the right use or exercise of knowledge. This means it not only matters what you are doing for God, but how you are doing it. Third, what about timing? The phrase “due season” shows us that not only does it matter what your are doing, and how you are doing it, but also when you are doing it. For me, this causes me to think of all the opportunities that were right, that I totally forfeited because of my bashfulness, fears, and yes, sometimes even laziness and apathy. So, when is the time right to serve God? When is the time right to speak the Word into someone’s life? Consider what Paul told Timothy in 2 Tim. 4:2, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season…” The word instant here means pressing, urgent, immediate, quick, making no delay. This leads me to believe that the sewer (that’s you and me) is to sew the seed of The Word of God always, whether it appears to us that the season for the hearer is right or not. 1 Cor. 3:7 teaches us that while some plant and others water, it is God that gives the increase. That said, as disciples of Christ, we are to be less concerned with sampling the soil upon which we are sewing, and more concerned with simply spreading the Word of God, and allowing God to do with it what He wills! Then, if we are found faithful, wise, and timely as clockwork, our Father who sees our faithfulness over a few things will make us ruler over many. May God help us to do just that for His glory!

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