JESUS IS ALIVE

Sunday 31st March 

Luke 24:5-7

“Then, as they were afraid and bowed their face to the earth, they said to them, Why do you seek the living among the dead?, He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and on the third day rise again’.”

 

 

To all those that read this devotional. HAPPY EASTER. What a joyous occasion. This day 2000 years ago and man called Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, lived in a humble town of Nazareth and died a criminals death….ROSE AGAIN. The third day not only symbolizes Jesus’ victorious resurrection and triumph over sin and death but a way that we might have a renewed personal relationship with the Creator God, our Loving Father.

 

Death couldn’t hold Him back and because of that, we too can overcome all things. His resurrection power lives in and us and through us. Now go!!! Spread the good news of His acceptance, love and mercy. Hallelujah!!

It is finished- Death Of Christ

Saturday 30th March

Below is a rap my friend wrote a few years back. It depicts the death and crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Chris in poetic form and leads us to remember the gruesome and horrible death He suffered for us. Despised and shamed, like a Lamb led to the slaughter, crucified and crushed for your sins and mine. Thank you Jesus

It is finished,

The last words coming from Christ,

Before he, bowed his head, but lets get precise,

It was torture,

Beyond imagination blood and water dripping from His side,

As He was pierced for all the nations,

But all creation falls to temptation,

Which is, a lack of appreciation,

The death of Jesus is a demonstration,

So when His hands were nailed to the cross,

And He was hanging there,

And there was a blood loss,

From His head to His organs every breath He takes shortens,

And as they got shorter,

His body got weaker,

Please don’t deny Christ like Peter,

Cause the crown of thorns were placed on His head,

People walking by cursed and mocked as He bled,

He was whipped many times,

Flesh ripped,

Blood dripped on the floor, He was beaten for sure,

They bowed down and worshipped Him as a joke,

Hit spat on him, trying to provoke,

Even tho’ they salute, He didn’t retaliate because He had the Holy Spirit fruit,

And even tho’ they took Him to the place of a skull,

And they offered Him a brew to ease His pain He said no,

Because of us,

All that pain and suffering,

Because of us,

That’s why I praise and never cuss,

That’s why I’m gonna live the rest of my days without a fuss,

Cause He came from heaven to earth to die for us, that just proves His love for us

Remember that!!

 This, this is the Christ, He came to pay the price, the perfect sacrifice for us!!

 Remember Jesus, Remember the cost, Remember you are forgiven. If Jesus had to die only for your sins He would have!! What is your response?

The Joy Of Good Friday

Friday 29th March

Luke 23:45

“…suddenly the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle.”

So often Good Friday is looked at as a day of mourning and sadness. This sorrow is intensified in Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion Of The Christ. Although it is not a 100% accurate, it depicts the pain and sorrow that the disciples and Jesus’ friends and family must have felt whilst watching Jesus die a gruesome death on the cross. His slow and painful suffocation as he hung on the terrible cross would have been hard to witness. However I often wonder would we (they) be filled with the same bitter sorrow if Jesus hadn’t died and our relationship with the Father never reconciled? The simple truth is this…Jesus had to die! Yes of course death and pain is hard to watch and yes the sorrow we feel because Jesus HAD to die for our sins is hard to grasp. But sorrow should be temporary. In fact Good Friday should be a happy time. Why? Because Jesus finished the work He started. That is something we should celebrate not mourn.

If the disciples truly understood Jesus’ teaching about His death, then they would have understood that although He died, He would soon rise again. The last action on the cross as Jesus breathed His last breath, was that the temple curtain of the inner sanctuary was torn from top to bottom. The curtain was about 60 foot high and around 4 inches thick. This event was significant enough to be mentioned by both Matthew and Mark in their accounts of Jesus’ last days. Interestingly, in Matthew 27:51, it is recorded that the veil was torn from top to bottom, thus an act of God’s doing and not man! So what is the significance of the curtain tearing? The curtain was usually in front of the Most Holy Place only allowing access for the High Priest to enter the Holy of Holies. As the veil tore, access into the Holy of Holies (into God’s presence) was no longer limited to a yearly visit from the High Priest, but was accessible for all mankind because of the blood of Jesus and because of His sacrifice. Not only was this a momentous occasion for the Pharisees and High Priest but it was momentous for the whole of Humanity. Because the veil was torn, we now can enter God’s presence boldly and freely.

The writer of Hebrews beautifully describes it like this.. “..and so my dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter Heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By His death, Jesus has opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting Him….

 Praise God for Good Friday. Rejoice and do not mourn. For because of Jesus’ death we can be forgiven and enter into His holy presence.

Jesus – The Merciful

Thursday 28th March

Luke 22:31, 23:39-43

Imagine for a moment if you were Jesus, about to suffer the most gruesome and painful death on the cross, would you be thinking about others or would your focus be on yourself? Lets add another dynamic to that question. Would your attitude change if you knew that not only were you going die a brutal criminals death but in the very next few moments, that you would experience humanity’s rebellion as you bore their sins, from the beginning of existence until the end? YET this did not change Jesus’ love for humanity. In fact there are two examples of Jesus’ mercy that I wanted to share with you. One is before the cross and the second is on the cross.

The first is taken from Luke 22:31. Jesus has just finishing the Passover meal with His disciples. After the Last Supper, Jesus turns to Peter and says that he will deny Him. However Peter was adamant that he would never do such a thing and would even go to prison or death with Jesus. Yet we so often overlook Jesus’ words and miss the most powerful part of His statement. Jesus, firstly says that although the enemy had asked for him, He had prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail. If we continue for a moment, Jesus says that once Peter had been restored (repented) and turned to Jesus again, he was to strengthen the other disciples in faith. Ok, so Jesus has just said that Peter will deny Him, however because Jesus had prayed that his faith might not fail, He is already thinking ahead to his restoration and to his use in God’s kingdom purposes. Are we understanding this? Jesus in His mercy, knowing Peter would deny Him, reinstates him before he has actually denied Him and not only that, He commissions Peter to strengthen the others. WOW, what mercy is that?

However Jesus’ acts of mercy do not end there. In Luke 23 we read of Jesus’ last hours on the cross. As Jesus was hanging upon the cross, one of the two criminals hanging next to Him, shouted out and started scorning Jesus with his sarcastic and patronising words. Jesus, in His love and patience did not reply to him, however His heart was stirred by the response of the other criminal in his reaction to hearing the rage of his friend. “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong!” Jesus’ heart was moved when He saw and heard a man, admit that he had fallen below the standard that a holy God required him to live by and moved with compassion, reconciled that sinful criminal to Himself and promised Him life in paradise. What mercy is that? In what was probably His last few words, Jesus instead of gasping for breath to save His own life, stretches out His mercy and grace and forgives and saves a repentant sinner.

Be encouraged today that even though you may be far from God or about to deny Him in some way, His love for you is still the same. He joyfully bled and died on the cross, took the punishment for your sin on Himself, so that you might be restored and forgiven. Jesus is merciful and is already planning how He can use you when you have repented and turned back to Him. It’s not too late. Make your peace with Him. He is Lord, He has risen from the dead and He is Lord.

Jesus – He Came To Serve Not To Be Served

Wednesday 27th March

Philippians 2:5-8

“Hands that flung stars into space, to cruel nails surrendered”

(Graham Kendrick: 1984)

Above is an extract from the song “From Heaven You came” written by one of my favourite Christian song writers, Graham Kendrick. This song truly depicts the magnificence of an Almighty Creator God, humbling Himself, taking the form of a human and being put to death by His very own creation. This particular extract summarises the servant heartedness of Jesus Christ. Truly His hands flung stars into space and truly He suffered and died as He was nailed to the cross to take our punishment for us.

 What does it mean for you to hear that? Does it stir your heart or does it just make you sad? Or in fact do you even care at all?

 Well the story didn’t end there. In fact the rest of the story is the best bit. DEATH could not keep Jesus down. He triumphantly rose again on that third day, defeating sin, shame, and death and now lives forever standing as your intercessor and mine.

 Now what fills your heart? Is it still sadness, or is it joy?

 Paul tells us in today’s passage found in Philippians that our attitudes and thoughts should be the same as that of Jesus Christ. Joy at His death and resurrection is great but that joy should lead us into imitating Christ in word and deed. How can we do that? Well first we must look at Jesus’ attitude. The NLT says in verse 5 that “though He was God, He did not think of equality as something to cling to. Instead He gave up His divine privileges. He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”

Jesus made Himself of no reputation, emptied Himself out, and poured out His life for others. We see this throughout the testimony of His life, particularly through His triumphant procession into Jerusalem whilst riding on a humble colt. His ultimate goal was the cross and He went with joy. The cross that was reserved for a criminal’s death became the symbol for mankind’s restored relationship with God. How can we replicate this attitude in our own life? How can we have the same mind as this? Does it mean that we should go to the cross and get crucified? NO. Our attitude should be in humility and obedience to God through the way we live our lives and through the outward expressions of Christ’s inward change in our hearts.

Jesus came to serve not to be served. He came to seek and save the lost. He came to bring liberty to the captives and the oppressed. He came to set men free from the bondage of man made rules and give life and life in its fullness. There is joy in knowing He is resurrected but let the acceptance of that joy in your life both transform your attitudes in humility and obedience and lead you into action. You too can be part of serving mankind and bringing the joy of Christ’s resurrection into peoples lives and in your communities.

 

Jesus – The Greatest Served The Least

Tuesday 26th March

Luke 22:24-30 (John 13:1-11)

 “Who is greater? He who sits at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the who sits at the table?”

This passage really struck me this week. As is common around this time of the year, we tend to read the accounts of Jesus’ last days in the gospels. The interesting thing is that when you read them there is always something new you learn. The passage we are looking at today really stood out as being the essence of Jesus’ mission of earth. Let’s explore this timeless story and see what new thing God will do in us. 

So we reach the climax of Jesus last days on this earth as a human. It’s Passover time and Jesus instructs the disciples to prepare a room for them to observe it. After they have taken the Passover Jesus, in all three of the synoptic gospels accounts of these events, tells the disciples that one will betray Him, and tells Peter that he will deny Him. In John’s account, Jesus washes the disciple’s feet. Interesting that all the accounts of this monumental ‘last supper’ are almost written in the same order of events as mentioned above. 

 Luke then adds this passage from verse 24, of the disciples arguing about who is the greatest. This section may or may not have come after Jesus washes His disciple’s feet but the fact of the matter is this, they simply did not get the idea of humility and serving one another. Here is Jesus, the very person who stood at the creation of the world, humbled in the form of a human being, instituting the Passover as a representation of His imminent sacrifice for all mankind, mankind that He created, and yet here we have the disciples arguing about who is the greatest among them. I can imagine if I were Jesus, getting absolutely frustrated, knowing I am just about to give me life as a ransom for many and the very people who were supposed to understand and encourage me are the very people who are arguing about greatness amongst themselves.

 But let’s thank God that I am not Jesus. His response was a response that only He could give. In true ‘Jesus-like’ fashion, He explains the truth of humility with a question. After explaining that those who have authority should serve the least, Jesus asks a question. “Who is greater? He who sits at the table or the one who serves?” Obviously the one who sits at the table and is being served. Yet Jesus Himself, the greatest of all is pictured here serving His disciples. He not only washes their feet as a sign of humility but also soon will give His life for many in the ultimate act of serving mankind. In fact during that meal, Jesus even knows that one of the disciples will betray Him and one will deny Him. Yet still, He has the grace to say that He came to serve and not to be served. Not only that but He invites them all to be dine with Him at His table in Heaven as a prophetic statement of acceptance and restitution (especially to Peter).

 What grace, what humility and what acceptance of sinful people. Jesus came to serve and give His life for all mankind, to empty Himself and take on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7) and set an example to us. Are you living a servant-hearted life?

The Global Language Of The Saints

Monday 25th March

Revelation 19:1,3,5,6 

Popularised by Alexander Burke’s rendition, in her triumphant X-Factor victory in 2008, the song “Hallelujah” originally written by Leonard Cohen, became the fastest selling single of all time. When I first heard the chorus on the radio I thought I was listening to a worship song. I soon realised it wasn’t (although it does contain some Biblical references). However the interesting thing is, whether Christian or not, when people sing along to the lyrics in the chorus they are both praising God and singing the one word that is the same in every nation in the world.

Hallelujah derives it meaning from 2 compound Hebrews words. The first being Hallel which mean praise and the second Jah, which is taken from the Hebrew word for God, Yahweh. Put together we have the word Hallelujah, which is commonly translated as praise the Lord. What I find interesting is that in whatever country I have visited, the word Hallelujah is the same in their native tongue. Ok, it might have a slight tonal variation here and there but the word is still the same. In fact the more I think about it, the more I wonder, why is that word is never translated into different languages. I mean take the word God for example. If you said God in a non-English context, generally people wouldn’t understand you. Or how about the word salvation, would non-English speakers understand that in South-East Asia?? Why is it that every nation on the earth understands Hallelujah? 

I believe that the reason for this, is that God desires all men to praise Him. Sadly as with the song Hallelujah, most people use this word in a derogatory way, either in a sarcastic comment when something finally happens or in passing blasphemous comments. The wonderful thing though, is that not matter how their heart condition is, they are in fact praising God. Maybe a starting point for an evangelistic conversation for a friend??

 John, in his letter to the churches, writes down the vision he is shown by God of the end times and the future God has for all mankind, both in glory and judgement. In the 19th chapter of the book of Revelation, we read of a picture whereby John describes the vision he was given of Heaven and all the saints worshipping in glory. Every tribe, nation and tongue are all united in their common praise, in one thunderous voice, as the sound of mighty waves or the crashing of loud thunder, exclaiming “Hallelujah” to the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. What a wonderful image. Yet the truth is that this picture is already happening across churches worldwide…. In churches you really do find every tribe and nation, joining together in the united praise to and of God, Hallelujah. Join with the saints and the angels today. Shout out His praise. Hallelujah, Hallelujah to the Lord God Almighty. Remember you are not only singing or shouting His praise as an individual; you are joining with others around the world and with the angels in the Heavens, proclaiming the praise of our Lord Almighty. 

Like Mindedness = Godliness

Friday 22nd March

Romans 15:2,5-7

 Unity can often be thought of as a far-fetched ideology. After all, there have been some extremely bad examples of ‘unity’ under such horrifying dictatorships throughout history. Many have tried to lead unified nations through fear and authoritative influence. Others have forced unity through violence and war. Even sadder still, others in church contexts have risen up and even put themselves in the place of God to lead cult-like unity. The problem is, is that each of these people or ideologies have failed or will fail without the unity of the Spirit of God.

 Take a football match for example. The unity within a club is shown through the cohesion on the football pitch. However if there is unrest in the changing room, then the crowds will sense that and instead of encouraging their team to play well, instead they will criticise and mock their own players. However if there is unity on the pitch then the fans will support their players and there is great connection between the supporters and players.

 As the Body of Christ, unity should not fluctuate according to your feelings or if your team is winning or loosing. Unity is not something that can you can fake (although it may for a while, the truth will soon reveal itself) or that can forced upon people. To some extent unity is not even about us. OK, yes we have to make a conscious decision to accept each other but the true essence of unity is God’s Spirit in us uniting us together. There is only true unity when God is at the centre. Anything other than Christ like unity will be fake, temporary and will not last. God’s unity in and through His church should be a reflection of His character and His desire for mankind; to be unified in praise towards Him. God’s intended purpose for us was to be made in His likeness, to multiply and to create people who glorified and worshipped Him.

 We read in Romans 15:5-6 of this God inspired and ordained unity. “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Unity is not just to create an atmosphere of joy and happiness (although this is fruit of unified worship), moreover it is the very heart of true worship. Again this is not something that man can manipulate, it is God breathed and God inspired. We can only be united if we allow God to be the orchestrator of true genuine love and fellowship. Our prayer should be to ask God to make us, His church, like-minded. Our prayer should be for patience to bear with one another. Our prayer should be that our hearts and minds be unified together to create one voice to glorify God. Our prayer should be that unity is not of ourselves but of the Spirit in us and through us. Amen. 

Oneness In The Body

Thursday 21st March

Ephesians 4:1-6

 I once heard of a story of a preacher who was asked to preach at a family service. As he looked around the beautiful 17th century church building, he noticed the delicately crafted stain glass windows. As the sun shone through the glass, the beauty of each individual picture became clear. The preacher had now found his inspiration. As he stood on stage and started his sermon, he invited some children up to the front from the congregation. He began sharing on the importance of each child’s worth and how they too make up the body of Christ. He then explained how each child was like each individual drawing that made up the beautiful imagery of the stain glass windows. Each pane of glass was individually and delicately crafted to make up the whole picture. As he continued, he pointed at each of the children and said that each child was an individual pane of glass that made up the whole picture of the church. He continued by naming each child a pane of glass “You’re a pain, and you’re a pain, and you’re a pain”.  The congregation burst into laughter as he comically highlighted that each child was a “pain”.

 Although this story has a comical connotation, the truth is that we as a body are made up of individual “panes” (and sometimes “pains”) of glass to form the beautiful picture of the Body of Christ. Every believer contributes to that picture and without them, the picture would look odd. Interestingly the stain glass window is made up from moulded and shaped pieces of glass fused together by the heat of a furnace and joined by lead lining. So it is the same with the church. We are all individually hand crafted by our creator and united by the Holy Spirit’s precious design. The wonder is how so many people from all different backgrounds, life experiences, and cultures all make up such a beautiful image and reflection of Christ. The simple answer is by and through the “oneness of the Spirit”.

Paul in Ephesians reminds the church in Ephesus of the uniting factor in the believer’s lives; the oneness of the Godhead. “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, and One God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.” Each believer has been called to the hope of the future (the hope of God’s kingdom come on this earth and in His ultimate return). We are all ONE body united by ONE Spirit. The Spirit of the living and Holy God. Through the Holy Spirit living in us and through us, although being different as individuals, we can live in humility, patience and gentleness bonded by love, bearing with each others faults and weaknesses. Because of the oneness and unity within the Godhead, as He lives in us, unity and love become manifest in our lives.

 What a great image. Men and women, on that great day before the throne of God; from every tribe, tongue and nation, all worshipping the creator of the world. The truth is, is that it is possible now! We can worship as a unified body now! Are you ready to stand alongside your brother and sister in Christ, although they might not be the “same” as you, in the hope for which you were called?

 

The Domino Effect

Wednesday 20th March

1 Corinthians 12:12-31

 I am pleasantly surprised that when I visit a church in another country, that I find I have even more brothers and sisters. We might not know each other but the connection that is there from being united in our union with Christ is evident. Have you ever had that experience? It is so rewarding when someone you don’t even know, can’t even speak the same language with, doesn’t even look remotely like you, comes up to you and gives you a warm embrace as a brother would do to his brother. Why? Because you have the same Father. Why? Because when we surrender our lives to Him and become His children, we join into His body and His family. 

Paul talks of this unity in his analogy of the Body of Christ (the church). Interestingly, although we are part of the same body, we all have different roles, different callings and different gifts. We might even be from a different country yet still all parts of the Body of Christ are integral to the functioning of this living and growing organism. Again although this passage is mostly for a local church context, we can take the principle of every member’s worth and apply it both internationally and globally. However part of applying this passage in a local church context, highlights the importance of each individual discovering his/her role in ‘church life’ and how they can best be used for the extension of God’s Kingdom on this earth. Have you discovered your role in church or do you feel that there is nothing that you can give? I want to encourage you that you are valuable to your church. 

Think about it like this. Can the ear smell, or can the nose hear? Obviously no. Why? Because they were made for different roles and purposes. So it is the same with us. We might not all be able to teach or preach but your gifting as a hospitable person or your friendly welcoming character might be just what the church is looking for. No role is above another’s or more important. Each role is necessary. In Fact Paul echoes this in verse 22 when describing the worth of all individuals, “…those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.” The role of the corporate body is to encourage everyone in their gifting and calling so that the body may function effectively and in unity. When one falls, the body picks them up. When we are living as a body should, then it becomes harder to fall because you have even more support from your ‘brothers and sisters’ in Christ to hold you up when you are weak and encourage you when your vulnerable.

My wife told me of a story in her school where some children were playing jenga together. After the game had been won the young pupils decided to make dominos from jenga pieces and sure enough as they stacked them up and pushed the first piece, the domino effect took place and one piece stumbled onto the next. However there was one young girl who in her inquisitive mind, noticed that if you stacked the pieces together tightly then the pieces wouldn’t fall down. In her excitement at finding this truth she shouted “look Miss, they don’t fall down when they are together.” What this young girl realised is a truth that the church need to live out in their lives. Whilst being individuals and necessary to the functioning of the Body of Christ, being united and together in all things creates an atmosphere whereby we cannot easily be shaken. We are stronger together and necessary as individuals.

 “Look Miss…they don’t fall down when they are together.”