LENTEN DEVOTION – 2017
March 7, 2017 at 10:20 am #28952March 8, 2017 at 6:10 pm #29057
CONFRONTING A DEMONAnd in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice. (Luke 4:33)
Read Luke 4:31-37After being rejected in his hometown of Nazareth, Jesus sets up His headquarters in the town of Capernaum. On the Sabbath, He begins teaching in the synagogue. Once again the people are amazed at His powerful words. But sitting in their midst is a man possessed by a demon.
Demons are fallen angels. In the beginning God created them pure and holy, but following their rebellious leader Satan they rose up against their Creator. Jesus would later tell His disciples, “I saw Satan fall like lightning” (Luke 10:18b). Cast out of heaven, Satan and his demonic angels turned their rage and hatred against the humans God had created.
Here in the synagogue this ancient enemy cries out in a loud voice: “Ha! What have You to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us?” Since their fall all the demons have known and dreaded the coming of God’s Son in judgment.In terror the demon blurts out, “I know who You are-the Holy One of God!”Jesus gives the first of two short commands: “Be silent.” Standing before God’s mighty Son, the demon immediately falls silent.Then Jesus commands, “Come out of Him!” In obedience the demon immediately comes out, throwing the man down in the process. But under Jesus’ protecting eye the man is left completely unharmed.In the wilderness, Satan had tempted Jesus to bow down and worship him. But on the Last Day, Satan and all his evil host will bow down and worship their Creator and Judge-and be cast into hell forever.
THE PRAYER: Almighty God, like Satan and his demons, I have sinned against You. Forgive me for Jesus’ sake and free me from Satan’s power, that I may serve You now and forever. I pray in Jesus’ Name. AmenMarch 9, 2017 at 8:39 am #29068March 10, 2017 at 9:25 am #29129LENTEN DEVOTIONDAY NINE“IS IT UNLAWFUL TO DO GOOD?”But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. (Luke 6:11)
Read Luke 6:6-11The opposition against Jesus is mounting – neighbors from Nazareth and the devil with his demonic army. Now two new enemies join the fray.
The scribes have spent centuries copying Old Testament scrolls, which teach God’s Law to show us why we need His promised Savior. But they have distorted that word: teaching that heaven can be earned with less-than-perfect lives. Sitting with the scribes are their disciples, the Pharisees, who dedicate themselves to live by these teachings and traditions.
In the synagogue sits a man whose right hand is withered and useless. What will Jesus do? Scribal traditions forbid any work on the Sabbath, even healing a man’s withered hand. So the scribes and Pharisees silently watch to see if Jesus will break their Sabbath rules.Jesus calls the man to stand, dramatically drawing everyone’s attention. Then He turns to the scribes and asks, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” He exposes the hypocrisy of their tradition that would forbid Him to use His powers to end someone’s suffering just because it is the Sabbath. Looking around at them, He lets His point sink in. Jesus then tells the man, “Stretch out your hand,” and his hand is completely restored.
The scribes and Pharisees are furious. Jesus clearly broke the spirit of their Sabbath tradition, but by the letter of their law they have no charge to bring against Him. Nobody thought to write a law forbidding a man to stretch out his hand.THE PRAYER: Almighty God, Jesus’ enemies grew furious when He showed concern for a man who was hurting. Forgive my cold, unfeeling heart toward those suffering around me, and help me flee to Jesus for forgiveness. I pray His Name. Amen.March 10, 2017 at 9:29 am #29130
SHATTERING ILLUSIONS(Jesus said) “The Son of Man must suffer many things …” (Luke 9:22a).
Read Luke 9:18-22Jesus’ disciples have heard His powerful words and seen many mighty miracles. They believe He is the promised Messiah. But as soon as Peter makes his great confession, Jesus sternly commands the 12 disciples to keep the news to themselves. The Jewish crowds have the wrong idea about the Messiah; they think He will be a great king, driving out the Romans and establishing an earthly kingdom. Even the disciples are swept up in this dream. Now Jesus begins shattering that illusion and teaching them that He came to save the world through His death and resurrection.Jesus is fully aware of all the horrendous things He will suffer in Jerusalem, but He also knows the disciples are not ready for all the gory facts. So He draws a veil over the details and simply says, “The Son of Man must suffer many things.”
But the disciples need to know who will cause His great suffering. So Jesus teaches them that the leaders of His own people – the Jewish high court – will carefully examine Him and reject Him as their Messiah. They will kill Him through an act of judicial murder. But Jesus’ revelation to the disciples doesn’t end with His death. He clearly states that on the third day after His death He will be raised.
At Christmas when you look at the Baby dozing in Bethlehem’s manger, this may not be the life you would picture for Him, but it is exactly what God had planned for Him since the very beginning.THE PRAYER: Almighty God, Jesus was careful to shield His disciples from all the horrors He knew He would suffer to save us from our sins. Remind me that You know every detail of my future and give me confidence You will make all thingS work together for my good. For Jesus’ sake I pray. Amen.March 13, 2017 at 9:11 pm #29268
SHINING IN GLORYAnd as He was praying, the appearance of His face was altered, and His clothing became dazzling white (Luke 9:29).
Read Luke 9:28-36
Eight days after Jesus predicted His death and resurrection, He takes three disciples up a mountain where He is transfigured before them. Peter had called Him the Christ of God. Now he can look upon the glorious face of God’s eternal Son. Jesus always had this glory, but from His conception until that very moment it had been hidden behind His humanity. Now, for a brief moment, it bursts forth on the mountain.This glorious sight might strengthen Peter, James and John’s false dream of Jesus reigning over a glorious, earthly kingdom. But Moses and Elijah-two great leaders from the Old Testament-stand speaking with Jesus about His departure and how He will complete His earthly mission through His death, resurrection and ascension. Peter, James and John awaken. Seeing Moses and Elijah beginning to leave, Peter blurts out his desire to build three shelters so they can stay.Suddenly, a bright cloud envelopes Jesus and the three disciples. And from the cloud the voice of the Father speaks out, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” Jesus has much to teach them-and us-about our earthly life and how He will lay down His life, so we might live forever with Him.After the voice had spoken, Jesus was again alone with them, back to His normal, veiled appearance. He then leads them down the mountain on the path that will take Him to the cross.THE PRAYER: Almighty God, in Jesus’ transfiguration we see His full glory as Your mighty and eternal Son. Strengthen my trust in Him as my Savior, so I may see His glory face to face in heaven. I pray this in Jesus’ Name. AmenMarch 13, 2017 at 9:15 pm #29269
GROWING URGENCY(Jesus said) “Let these words sink into your ears: the Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men” (Luke 9:44).
Read Luke 9:37-45Coming down with His three disciples from the Mountain of Transfiguration, Jesus encounters a demon that His other disciples are unable to cast out. With divine might and majesty, Jesus overpowers the demon and sends him away. The crowd is completely amazed and stands marveling at what God has done. Jesus knows His disciples are still clinging to hopes of an earthly kingdom, and He doesn’t want them to get swept away by the excitement of the crowds. So He turned to talk directly to them. To get their attention He could have easily said, “Listen carefully.” Instead, He says something even more striking: “Let these words sink into your ears.”
And what are the extremely important words Jesus has to tell them? They are these: “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” Despite their dreams, and the hope of the crowd following them, Jesus’ suffering is close at hand. He is “about to be delivered into the hands of men.”
But Jesus reveals one more painful fact about His coming suffering He did not reveal the first time: it will come about through an act of betrayal. Of course, Jesus knows the identity of His betrayer, but He withholds that information, for now. Not only will He be rejected and, consequently, subjected to violent brutalities and death, but treachery will be connected with these events as well.The disciples fail to understand and are afraid to ask Jesus anything about it. The suspense is building as Jesus’ destiny-and our salvation-draw near.THE PRAYER: Almighty God, Your Son single-mindedly set His steps to fulfill Your plan to save the world. Give me an unwavering faith to follow Him all my days. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.March 13, 2017 at 9:19 pm #29270
“I’M NOT WASHING”The Pharisee was astonished to see that He did not first wash before dinner (Luke 11:38).
Read Luke 11:37-54Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem for the last time. One Sabbath He stops to teach in a synagogue. After the service a Pharisee invites Him to share His morning meal. Before they eat, the Pharisee and his other guests carefully wash their hands, according to Jewish traditions. They believe eating with unwashed hands would contaminate the food which, in turn, made the body unclean in God’s eyes.It was time for Jesus to confront that error. Knowing all humans are contaminated by the sinful nature they receive from their parents and not from eating unclean food, Jesus refuses to wash His hands. His host is astonished, but Jesus refuses to back down.He then starts blasting the traditions they trust to earn their way to heaven. It may seem unwise for Jesus to turn up the heat, but it is the greatest act of kindness anyone could do for them. If they keep straining to wash a little uncleanness from their hands, they will never let God remove the uncleanness and sin from their hearts, minds and souls.This brings a complaint from the scribes. When He attacks the Pharisees, Jesus is really attacking the scribes, whose traditions the Pharisees are following. Jesus turns the heat up again. He accuses the scribes of burying God’s gracious Old Testament promises beneath their traditions, which deceive people into relying on their own works rather than God’s free forgiveness as given through His Son, the Messiah.The Pharisees and scribes strenuously object. They pressure Him to speak on more things, lying in ambush, hoping He will blurt out something carelessly.THE PRAYER: Almighty God, Your Son Jesus made clear there is only one way into Your presence, through faith in Him. Drive from my heart and mind the lie that there are many ways. I pray in Jesus’ Name. AmenMarch 14, 2017 at 11:31 pm #29331
PEACE AT ALL COSTS?(Jesus said) “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division” (Luke 12:51).
Read Luke 12:49-53The hostility against Jesus grows. His enemies will not stop until He hangs dead on a cross.That doesn’t seem to fit the words of the Christmas angels: “Peace on earth” (see Luke 2:14). But the angels weren’t talking about peace among people. They said, “Peace among those with whom God is pleased.” God is only pleased when we recognize our failings, and then trust Jesus Christ as our Savior.The Jewish leaders won’t accept that they are misleading God’s people. They cling to their errors and refuse to turn to their Messiah for forgiveness. Jesus warns His disciples that hostility will one day turn against them.Listen to the urgency in His voice: “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is My distress until it is accomplished!” The fire Jesus wishes to cast is the cross; His bloody sacrifice divides believers from unbelievers. The fire of that cross rages across the earth to this very day.Jesus asks, “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth?” How often do we compromise the truth or stand in silence trying to live at peace with others? Not so with Jesus. He refuses to wash His hands if it will support a satanic lie. He powerfully attacks the deception of the Pharisees and scribes so they will recognize Satan’s lies and turn to Him for salvation.
THE PRAYER: Almighty God, there can be no compromise between You and Satan, truth and error, life and death, heaven and hell. Help me cling at all costs to the peace believers have with You, which Jesus Christ won. I pray in His Name. Amen.March 15, 2017 at 9:39 am #29347March 16, 2017 at 8:31 am #29392
PILATE’S FIRST APPEARANCEThere were some present at that very time who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices (Luke 13:1).Read Luke 13:1-5Today we catch our first glimpse of Pontius Pilate, the Roman military governor. Jesus is making His way toward Jerusalem when He gets word of a recent tragic event in Jerusalem. While some of Jesus’ fellow Galileans were offering sacrifices in the temple courts, Pilate’s soldiers rushed in and killed them. This event is not recorded by any other Gospel writer or ancient historian and Luke doesn’t explain Pilate’s reasons, he is more interested in Jesus’ reaction.“Do you think that these Galileans where worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered in this way?” That’s how people thought in that day, and it’s a conclusion we sometimes are too quick to jump to in our day too. If someone suffers something horrendous such as a tragic accident or an illness, then God must be punishing them for some secret sin. Jesus warns us not to judge by outward appearances.In a short time, another Galilean will be killed at the hands of Pontius Pilate. People will look at Jesus hanging on the cross and reach the false conclusion that God is punishing Him for falsely claiming to be His Son. But in truth, Jesus is God’s perfect Son. He will hang on the cross and endure punishment for the sins of all people for all time. This He will do so that God may give complete forgiveness to all who repent and believe.Jesus continues, “No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” All people are sinners. Only those who repent and trust in Jesus’ sacrifice in their place will find salvation and eternal life.
THE PRAYER: Almighty God, teach me not to judge how You feel about me, or anyone else, by mere appearances and circumstances. Let me instead live by faith in Jesus Christ my Lord. I pray in His Name. AmenMarch 16, 2017 at 8:35 am #29393
HEROD’S DEATH THREAT… “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill You” (Luke 13:31b).Read Luke 13:31-35Each day, the danger increases for Jesus. Today, some Pharisees pass along an alleged death threat. If Herod did make this threat, it was more of a bluff to drive Jesus out of the region. Later, he’ll have his chance to kill Jesus in Jerusalem, but he will hand Him back to Pilate instead. He doesn’t want to anger his Galilean subjects by killing yet another popular prophet, executing John the Baptist had already cost him enough.
Jesus refuses to be intimidated. His time in Galilee is growing extremely short, and He will reach every person He possibly can before He must move on toward Jerusalem. Jesus gives them a message to take back to Herod, “Tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.’ “ If demons and diseases cannot stop Jesus from carrying out the work the Father has set for Him to do, no earthly ruler will either.
He must go up to Jerusalem. And it is there, like so many prophets before Him, that Jesus must die. Like a bird that spreads its wings to gather its chicks and shield them from danger, Jesus reaches out to His people, but they turn their backs. On the cross His arms will be stretched out for them also, but they will pass by with sneers, insults and mockery.
This brings tears to His eyes. But they are not for Him; rather, they are for the people of Jerusalem He so desperately wants to save, but they are unwilling. This unwillingness will lead to their destruction at the hands of the Roman legions in another 40 years.
THE PRAYER: Almighty God, so many times You reached out to Your people, yet they kept turning their backs on You. Heal my stubborn heart, so I may know Your peace and joy through Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. I pray in Jesus’ Name. AmenMarch 16, 2017 at 1:51 pm #29409March 16, 2017 at 2:17 pm #29413March 19, 2017 at 10:57 pm #29545
HOLDING NOTHING BACKFor He will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging Him, they will kill Him, and on the third day He will rise (Luke 18:32-33).Read Luke 18:31-34Jesus has left Galilee in the north and is on the road to Jerusalem with His 12 disciples. The crowds are excited by everything Jesus is doing, and the disciples are swept up in their hopes and dreams. Jesus tells them everything recorded in the Old Testament prophets concerning Him will be fulfilled in Jerusalem. They expect Jesus to announce His glorious earthly kingdom, but Jesus paints a very different picture.
Twice before, Jesus has announced His coming death and resurrection. Both times, He veiled the details behind the words, “The Son of Man must suffer many things.” Now, however, He spells it out. He doesn’t disclose Judas’ upcoming betrayal, but He does reveal that the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin, will deliver Him into the hands of the Gentiles, namely, Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor.
The Roman soldiers will mock Him, treat Him shamefully and outrageously, spit upon Him, flog Him, and then kill Him. The details are stunning. Jesus knows exactly what He is walking into-and He goes willingly.
This is not at all what the disciples expect or want to hear. But when those words are fulfilled, they will have no doubt that Jesus foresaw it all — and went through it all — for them and us.THE PRAYER: Almighty God, Your Son knew all He must suffer to save us from our sins, and yet He took that path willingly. Give me a thankful heart that I may joyfully follow whatever path You choose to set before me. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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