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Maundy Thursday: A Different Kind of Love

He removed his robe, and wrapped a towel around his waist. One by one, he washed every foot in the room. This was not a job reserved for the teacher but the rookie servant, yet Jesus did it. He did it to show his love and compassion for his disciples.

He didn’t feel too important or think of himself too highly to meet the obvious need. His love compelled Jesus to meet his disciples’ needs.

After washing all 24 feet, Jesus sits down and challenges us to have the same kind of love. “And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you” (John 13:14-15).

This is a different kind of love. It is a love that seeks nothing in return. It is a love that may break the norm. It is a love that looks at others’ needs with a desire for them to be met.

Today is Maundy Thursday, and the challenge for Christians is to show this love – a different kind of love. Love that makes us stand out from the world. How are you going to meet that challenge today?

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Holy Wednesday: Can We Find Hope in the Resurrection?

Yes, because of its validity, value, and victory.

Hope can be found in Christ’s resurrection.

The Validity of the Resurrection

With courtroom-like precision, Paul builds the case for Christ’s resurrection. The eyewitness accounts are overwhelming.

1 Corinthians 15:5-8 states, “He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time. Most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later, by all the apostles. Last of all, I also saw him.”

It is easy to dismiss one person’s testimony, and perhaps the 12 disciples could be written off as hallucinating. But it is not as easy to discount 500 people seeing the same event at the same time. Jesus appeared to all these individuals after his resurrection.

He ate with them. He talked with them. He walked with them. They could see and touch his physical body. He was there. Those who saw Jesus could factually say he was no longer in the tomb.

The resurrection was not a myth. It was a historical event which brought value and victory.

The Value of the Resurrection

1 Corinthians 15 goes on to explain there is much value in the resurrection.

  • Our dying bodies are buried, and a body, which will live forever, is raised up.
  • Our broken bodies will be exchanged for glorious bodies.
  • Our weak bodies will be replaced with strong bodies.
  • Verse 44 says, “They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.”

In other words, we will shed all the struggle and heartache in this life. Our physical and mental difficulties will no longer plague us. The value of the resurrection is a new body granted through Christ’s victory.

The Victory of the Resurrection

“Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But, thank God, he gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ,” says 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.

Death, which is man’s great equalizer, has been beaten by Christ. The day of Christ’s resurrection, he struck a death blow to death and brought victory.

As we search for hope in this life, we can find it in the validity, value, and victory of Christ’s resurrection.

Holy Monday: A Reminder Forgiveness is Free

“When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves” (Mark 11:15-17).

It was commonplace in Jesus’ day for the outer courtyard of the Temple to be a marketplace. Merchants had a variety of animals available for purchase. They were turning the need for sacrifice into a business; however, Jesus brings an end to it today.

The Gospel writers tell us Jesus entered the Temple with a whip in hand. He overturned tables and prevented merchants from moving about. Basically, Jesus cleaned house. And, in doing so, reminds us all forgiveness is free.

The Bible reminds us forgiveness is free. It is a gift given to us by the Lord. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. “

As you begin the work week, remember to pause and thank the Lord for his gift of grace.

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Palm Sunday: An Announcement Like None Other

As the donkey carried him into the city, the crowd met him. John 12:13 says, “They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,,“Hosanna! ”,“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”,“Blessed is the king of Israel!”

Today is the day. 3+ years of ministry led up to this announcement. Jesus is their king; he is the king they’ve been waiting on, but his kingdom is like none other.

You see, the people of Israel were awaiting a king to come and overthrow Rome. They believed this would give them freedom again, but Jesus had a different strategy. As king, Jesus is coming to not just engage a political foe, but to conquer the real enemy of death.

Today is a celebration of a kingdom being announced. A kingdom that strikes a death blow to death. Because of King Jesus, you and I have hope:

  • Hope of eternal life.
  • Hope of seeing our loved ones again.
  • Hope of knowing the difficulties and struggles of this life are only temporary. They are achieving an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Hold tightly to this hope as you celebrate Palm Sunday.

Finding Refreshment and Renewal: How Jesus Quenches Our Thirst as the Rivers of Living Water

It was October, and time to remember Moses striking the rock in the wilderness. The people celebrated for a week. They slept in tents and each morning they would draw water from the pool and take it to the altar. This was done to commemorate the Lord providing Israel water while they were in the desert.

Exodus 17 records the Israelites in a waterless place and grumbling against the Lord. The Lord instructed Moses to strike a rock, and verse 6 records water gushing out of the rock as the Elders looked on. The Lord provided for Israel’s need in a big way, so a festival was started to remember the Lord’s provision.

This week-long festival ended in a dramatic way. The daily water drawing was performed seven times on the seventh day. It was here Jesus revealed where one’s desire for God could be met. John 7:37-38 says, “on the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds. ‘Anyone who is thirsty may come to me. Anyone who believes in me may come and drink. For the Scriptures declare rivers of living water will flow from his heart.”

Jesus stands and shouts to grab the people’s attention. He stands and shouts because his news is that pertinent. “Is your soul thirsting for God? Come to me! Are you longing to feel God’s presence? Come to me!” Jesus invites everyone to come to him and satisfy the desire to be with God. He invites everyone to come to him to find the peace and forgiveness for which they are longing. Jesus invites the thirsty, weary traveler to find rest in him. He can grant rivers of living water for our soul.

Do you allow your soul to drink from those waters? Is Jesus a dot on your calendar or the center of your day?

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Thomas’ Question

Taking in all this news was hard. There was a great deal to process as they had an intimate conversation with their leader. He was preparing the group for what was getting ready to happen. He was going to be handed over to enemies, and he was going to prepare a place for them. When the place was ready, he would come back and get them. Much was said, and Thomas was taking it all in, which leads to his question.

John 14:5-6 says, Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Perhaps Thomas was asking a question the other disciples wanted to know, but did not have the courage to ask. They would not be able to find the destination unless they had the address.

Jesus tells the disciples the address is him. The way to get to the place he is describing is him. Jesus is the way. It is in his truth and the life he offers we find our way into Heaven.

Jesus says no one gets to the Father except through him. No one finds the Lord’s gift of grace except through him. No one finds the Lord’s peace except through him. Jesus says he is the way, the truth, and the life. Forgiveness, peace, and life are found in Jesus.

Perhaps Thomas’ question is one you are asking. The address to the destination is Jesus. He is the way.

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Jesus is Our Guiding Light

Night time in an unfamiliar terrain can be a scary place. With darkness all around, a traveler is not sure what lies ahead. The pitfalls of the land are unknown, so anxiety increases and nerves grow razor-thin. Have you ever been in this situation?

Israel was. As they were leaving Egypt, they found themselves in the unfamiliar territory of the desert. They were unsure what lie ahead, but the Lord gave them guidance. Exodus 13 records the Lord leading Israel by a pillar of fire. The light provided by this pillar:

  •  Gave Israel protection.
  • Provided salvation. 
  • Helped the people remember the Lord was with them.

Like Israel, life may place us in some unfamiliar territory, and the Lord will give us guidance in these moments. Jesus says in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Just as Israel followed the pillar of fire, we can follow him.

Jesus is our guiding light.

Through Jesus:

  • We find protection.
  • We find salvation.
  • We find the truth the Lord is with us.

Jesus is our light in unfamiliar places. Jesus is our light guiding us through the darkness of this world. What areas of life do you need the Lord’s light to shine?

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Claiming Victory: A promise from Psalm 118

“My enemies did their best to kill me, but the Lord rescued me. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory” (Psalm 118:13-14).

These words of the Psalmist can bring great encouragement to you and I. They were written at a time of high stress and tension.

During this time, the Jewish people were struggling to rebuild their community and their temple in Jerusalem, and they faced opposition and persecution from their neighboring nations. Despite these challenges, the psalmist expresses confidence and trust in God’s protection and salvation, and celebrates God’s steadfast love and faithfulness.

Perhaps today is a time of high stress and tension for you. Look again at these words of the Psalmist. The Lord is his strength. The Lord has given him victory. Though we are surrounded by stress and tension, we can be assured the Lord is bringing about a victory.

If you’re struggling today, cling to this promise. The Lord is your strength and your song; he will give you victory.

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Divine Provision: How the Lord’s Manna for the Israelites Teaches Us About Trusting in God to Meet Our Needs

The people of Israel found themselves in the desert where there are not a lot of food choices. Walking through the desert day after day is bound to strike up a hunger, so they had to eat something. They did not know what they were going to eat so the people grumbled. They had been pulled out of the fertile lands of Egypt and placed in the dry, parched desert. How on earth were they going to survive? Anxiety levels elevated; the Israelites quickly forgot how the Lord brought them out of Egypt.

But the Lord had a plan. Exodus 16 reveals the Lord sent manna each day for the Israelites. Verses 21-22 record, “Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much, two omers, for each person, and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses.” For the entirety of their trip, the Israelites were provided manna. The Lord met their needs.

The Israelites were taught a valuable lesson. The Lord can provide for our needs. What seemed impossible to them, was easy for the Lord. They saw a dry and parched land, but the Lord saw a bread basket. The Lord had provisions to meet the need. All the Israelites had to do was trust him.

Later, Moses recalled, “He humbled you, causing you to hunger then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known to teach you that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3). The people spent 40 years in the desert, yet they had food, water, clothes that stayed wearable, and feet that were not swollen. The Lord continually met their needs.

The Bible teaches the Lord is still in the need meeting business today. John 6:35 says, “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Like the Israelites, our anxiety levels may be high. We may not understand how the Lord could possibly meet the needs in a situation or circumstance we are facing, but he put manna on the ground. What needs do you need to trust the Lord to meet today? Like the Israelites, he desires for us to trust him with our needs.

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Success Starts With Submitting

No one likes failure, and everyone strives to achieve success. Tucked away in James 4 is a suggestion to help us find true success.

Submit to God (James 4:7).

True success comes from the Lord, and finding it requires allowing the Lord in our lives. This means…

  • We accept his wisdom and will.
  • We trust his power and love for us.
  • We follow his teachings.

Nothing will detour Satan faster than a close relationship with the Lord, so if you’re looking for true success, start by submitting to the Lord.