Scripture reading for March 22nd: Luke 14
Key Scriptures: Luke 14:25-30 “Now great crowds accompanied Him, and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers ad sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.'”
Salvation and forgiveness of sins is a free gift for all who repent and believe on Jesus Christ. That is the first step of a journey that is to last the rest of our earthly lives and continues for eternity. According to Jesus, following Him definitely has a cost. First, all other interests, people, and priorities must be put behind our love for Jesus. We can’t put marriage, family, or even our own life ahead of Him. This is symbolized by His call to “bear his own cross” and come after Him as He modeled for us carrying His cross and loving not His own life unto death on our behalf. Following Him should not just be an emotional decision based on a momentary whim or pressure from a friend. These costs must be weighed, and if paid, must be followed through to completion.
Luke 14:33 “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be My disciple.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, Thank You for purchasing the free gift of salvation and eternal life through Your sacrifice on the cross. I desire to be Your disciple and sometimes struggle with taking up my cross and fully following You. Show me daily what this looks like for me. Give me more grace.
Psalm 49:7-9 “Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit.”
Scripture reading for July 29th: Joel, Matthew 10
Key Scriptures: Matthew 10:34-39 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
After observing Jesus ministering and healing, He sent out the twelve hand-picked disciples to do ministry with additional instructions concerning their reception. They were going out as sheep among wolves. There would be great persecution and even some loss of life–the sword would be raised against them! Their enemies would even come from among their own families. The Gospel message would offend and cause conflict between close relatives. These disciples must choose Jesus and take up their cross to find the life He offered: eternal life and everlasting joy!
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for speaking plainly and laying out the choice of following You with our whole heart. I choose to follow You, losing my life for Your amazing life! Lead me onward today!
Joel 2:32 “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.”
Greetings in the Wonderful Name of Jesus Christ! Welcome to another day of rest in His finished work of redemption! It is at the cross that we find our rest with God and can enter into relationship with Him. The cross of Christ draws our attention and draws us Him.
As I reflect back on this week’s reading in the Gospels of Luke and John, I am drawn today to chapter three of John. Jesus had an encounter with a prominent teacher of the Jews, Nicodemus. He came to Jesus by night to ask Him some questions. Nicodemus recognized that Jesus was a teacher sent from God and noted the miracles that He had done. Jesus told Nicodemus that no one could see the kingdom of God unless they were born again! (John 3:3) Nicodemus had trouble grasping how this might take place. He was thinking about natural birth and growth when Jesus told him about the Spirit bringing the second birth. Nicodemus asked him how this could take place and Jesus answered him with one of the most famous verses in the Bible.
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:14-16
Jesus used an incident in the life of Moses where the people were dying from a plague of poisonous snakes. Moses had prayed to the Lord and God showed him what to do. He was to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole and lift it up in the center of the camp. Any Israelite who was bitten could look at the bronze serpent in faith, believing that God would heal him and receive that healing. (Numbers 21:1-8) Jesus presented Himself as the one who would be lifted up between heaven and earth. All who looked at Him and believed, would be saved from the universal bite of the ancient serpent, Satan.
God’s great love for us motivated Him to send His Son to be lifted up for us! Jesus, who knew no sin, was made sin for us that we might be saved. All who would believe on Him would be born again by the Holy Spirit. They would receive the gift of God’s heavenly Breath or Wind! Eternal life is the realm of God Himself! What amazing truth comes as we contemplate the lifting up of the Son of Man!
Now God has lifted Him to the highest place! He is risen from the dead and ascended into heaven! He is praying and interceding for us today! We who believe are seated with Him and will see Him soon! Hallelujah!
In His Love, Pastor John