Seven Days of Devotion
The Weekly Word is a Collection of Devotionals to be read on the Day Listed and presented freely as a service to and for the Body of Christ and Believers throughout the World that We may Hear God Speak to us as the Spirit of God gives us ears to hear and eyes to see what God would have for us daily in relationship to Him.
“Hanging a Palm Frond”
Preparing the Soil (Introduction): When living in St Augustine, one of my favorite days of the whole year was Palm Sunday. One of the local churches in the downtown area always had a special Palm Sunday service, and after the service they passed out palm fronds to each person as a reminder for the upcoming week. I always hung my palm frond above my front door, so I could see it all times. I haven’t hung a palm frond above my door in years--not since I moved from St. Augustine, but this year might be different.
Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): My husband and I went to a birthday party this week to celebrate my great aunt’s 80th birthday. We had a great time at dinner, chatting and catching up with relatives we hadn’t seen in a long time. When we left, my husband commented that it was sad to look around the table and see people who are followers of Christ and those who weren’t. I thought about Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem on that donkey, looking at His family, seeing those who truly believed in Him and those who didn’t. No wonder He wept (Luke 19:41). Jesus didn’t weep that day because of the suffering that was ahead of Him, or in gratitude for how the crowd applauded and rolled out the red carpet. No, He saw the hearts of the people. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. (Luke 13:34-35) He wept, knowing the only way to true salvation, forgiveness of sins and eternal life with Him was through Him, and yet the people didn’t see anything but a victor for their earthly needs and desires. The people were looking for temporary relief, but Jesus came to offer eternal peace. I have always looked at Palm Sunday as the start of an exciting week; a week that proclaims the soon victory over Satan and sin, but this Palm Sunday I am looking at it in a different light, the way my Jesus did; a week of crying over those who sat around the table at my aunt’s birthday party, knowing they are constantly searching for temporary relief, when in fact they could have eternal peace.
Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): The third point in Pastor Mark’s teaching was that God needs us to lift up Jesus. Not just by our lifestyle, but also by opening our mouths and proclaiming the victory that Jesus had over Satan and sin. This year, I might just hang one of those palm fronds over our front door as a reminder to me, before I leave the house each day, to share what God had done in my life, not just as a temporary fix, but for eternity.
“Conform to TRUTH, Not the World”
Preparing the Soil (Introduction): What is truth? Webster’s definition is “conformity with fact; reality, actual existence; correct; accurate.” Does this not describe our Lord Jesus? Everything He said and did fulfilled the prophecies written hundreds of years before He walked the earth. And not just some of the prophecies, but every one of them, completely and accurately! Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NLT) Jesus walked this earth and fulfilled all the prophecies, and it was recorded by those who were with Him and saw with their own eyes (1 John 1:1).
Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. (John 1:1-2, NLT). So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. (John 1:14, NLT) The Word of God is living and true. God is our standard of truth, and Jesus confirmed it: He existed in the flesh and was correct and accurate in all that He did--the definition of truth. He is our example by which to live. Not one of us can claim to be perfect and righteous. No, only Jesus could claim this, and therefore we are only justified by Jesus’ blood sacrifice for our sinful actions. Pride caused Satan to be cast from heaven, and he now roams the earth looking to deceive us into thinking there are other ways to God other than through Jesus, the Truth and the Life. Satan desires to blind the eyes of as many as he can by the false idea that there are other ways to God, using man’s pride and his desire for pleasure as his bait. Only through Jesus do we find freedom. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. (I John 1:9, NLT). Don’t let sin build up because your pride doesn’t want to let you confess your faults and submit to God.
Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): When we obey the Word, Jesus said we will know the Truth and the Truth will set us free (John 8:31-32). If we take our thoughts captive and don’t let them get to the point where we have to bend the truth to justify our actions, we can live in freedom. Jesus died to set us free. He has already paid the price for our sins, and there is no other way to God but through Jesus (Acts 4:12). This is the Truth. It has been proven to be accurate and correct. We don’t have to stumble our way through life, unsure of the correct path to take; we just have to read and obey the living Word. It is our standard of which we can be sure. Satan will try to present false ideas and use people to give us a different approach to God, but don’t be fooled. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2, NLT).
“Strength in the Word”
Preparing the Soil (Introduction): The disciple John wrote that the Word has been there from the beginning. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1) The Word was there from the beginning and will endure forever. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah 40:8) The Word validates itself through the fulfillment of prophecy, and we are assured of its divine inspiration. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): The Word of God has been under attack for thousands of years. The methods change, but the goal of attempting to steer us from God's truth remains the same. Many people today will argue against the infallibility of the Bible by focusing on its translation from the original text. You may hear that the Greek or Hebrew does not say that, or that the King James translation is outdated and difficult to read. Jesus assured us that His Words would never be diluted or outdated. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." (Matthew 24:35) The Bible is complete and should be obeyed in its entirety. We cannot obey some directions from God and ignore others. See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it. (Deuteronomy 12:32) As we present the Word to others who struggle with sin, we also must be careful that we don't attempt to mold it into something that fits with what the world tells us is right and wrong. “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’” (Matthew 15:8-9) The Bible is the means for people to gain freedom from their bondage to sin through the love of Jesus, our Savior. The Word of God should be the foundation that every Christian builds his or her life upon. By obeying the Word we prepare ourselves for the trials we will inevitably face. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24)
Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): As Christ followers, we know that Jesus is coming back, and that those who have not accepted Him will be left behind. Imagine if you knew that certain destruction was going to come and decimate every home on your street. I am sure that every one of us would run from door to door to make sure each family was safe. As Christ followers, we have knowledge that something far worse is coming to people we interact with every day. We know end times are near, and the need to share that knowledge is urgent. Pray that God will open doors for you to communicate the Gospel. Be careful not to over complicate the task; all we have to do is tell the people about Jesus, and He will do the work!
“The King is Coming Soon”
Preparing the Soil (Introduction): After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are His judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of His servants." (Revelation 19:1-2)
Hallelujah to our faithful God! Once he has decreed something, it will happen. Whatever He has promised, He will provide, because His confidence is not in the world's economy or in the acts of our flesh, but in Himself. Since He cannot lie (Numbers 23:19), we can rest in His great and precious Promises and have hope for tomorrow. Long before the foundations of the earth, He knew we were coming, and began, even then, to prepare for our arrival. From the moment we breathed air into our tiny lungs, He knew the path that lay before us. As insignificant as we are, He still is intimately involved in our lives. How amazing that such a grand and marvelous God would choose to spend time and energy on such mundane people. Yet, He has invested the very life of His Son so that we may be victorious. Truly, never has the earth seen such a great love, nor been given such an amazing Gift! It will take us all of eternity to thank Him properly for His generosity!
Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): Each day with the Father is an adventure in faith. As he opens our eyes to His ways and instructs us in his Word, we are enlightened to the Spiritual realm of His dear Son. Embracing all of the benefits of the cross, we have been equipped with everything we need to succeed. Not one drop of blood was wasted, and not one tear was cried in vain, for God saw to it that each second of Jesus' persecution and death was eternally deposited into our Spiritual account. With our names eternally etched into this covenant, we are free to withdraw unlimited amounts of grace, peace, hope, healing and joy. It is by faith alone that we are privileged to access the treasuries of God, and it is His unconditional love for us that keeps them full. It blesses Him to see us appropriate His Kingdom and appreciate His blessings. Only here, in His presence, will we truly find fullness of joy!
Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): Just as He prepared for our arrival, and cares for us each day, so too will He be faithful to take us home. The same resurrection power that pulled Jesus Christ from the grave will one day pull each of us into His presence. All of our tears will be dried, and our health and youth will be renewed in resurrected bodies. Oh glorious day of reunion, when we will finally see Jesus face-to-face! Our voices will be a part of the great shouts of praise emanating from heaven. By His side we will witness the destruction of evil and the implementation of peace. Because His judgments are true and just, our enemy will be properly dealt with and punished for his arrogant deeds and malicious lies. Happily, Jesus is as excited as we are, and longs for us to finally see all the wonders He has prepared for us. Yet, we must wait on His perfect timing and be content to live here in time for as long as He ordains. But deep within our hearts we can hear Him whisper, "I'm coming soon, Beloved, so rest in My peace, walk in strong faith, proclaim the Gospel to all and anticipate My arrival with great joy!”
“Victory in Jesus”
Preparing the Soil (Introduction): Did you find it hard to turn to the person next to you in service this weekend, only to hear them say, “You are eventually going to die one day”? I thought it was a little unnerving, even knowing I will be in a better place! I am blessed to live a healthy lifestyle, relatively free from sickness and free to come and go as I please. I don’t often stop to consider death at this stage of my life, but thinking of the Christians in China being unable to freely worship puts freedom in a different perspective. We are so blessed to worship freely, and I believe we take it for granted. What if we couldn’t meet freely to worship? Are we sold out enough to go underground to meet in secret with the threat of imprisonment or even death a very real possibility? Would we continue to wear our blue bracelets and tell others about our relationship with God? It would really make us stop and think about what we really believe and how much it is worth.
Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): Jesus suffered beatings and an awful crucifixion to save us from eternal separation from our Creator. He chose to suffer, not just willfully, but joyfully because of the glory that awaited Him. There must be some awesome joy awaiting us that Jesus would joyfully suffer through horrific beatings and death knowing what was waiting on the other side. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. (Hebrews 12:1-4, NLT). What is the weight that so easily pulls you down? It might be painful at first to give it up, but Jesus already paid the price for that sin; He already claimed the victory and nailed it to the cross. You can choose to either stay weighted down to that sin or break free of it to live a life full of purpose and joy doing what God had planned for you while you were in the womb. Nothing can compare to being directly in the will of God. Jesus knew this, and He also knew what we can only try to imagine--the glory of the Father and Heaven. Jesus could have chosen to skip dying for us and gone straight back to glory, but He was totally submissive to the Father’s will, not His own. The Father did not want us to be eternally separated from Him, so He came to us in human form, as Jesus Christ.
Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): Someday we may be faced with the same situation as the Christ followers in China. We may lose our freedom to gather and worship. How much would this affect your life? The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. (John 16:10, NLT). Do you still have doubts about placing your faith in Jesus with all your heart? By believing in Jesus Christ and what He accomplished on the cross and at the tomb, you already have guaranteed victory over spiritual death because Jesus paid the price for your life. It’s up to you what you do with this knowledge.
Cultivating (Additional Reading): Ecclesiastes 7:1-14, NLT
“The Law and Love”
Preparing the Soil (Introduction): Picture this: One day you are driving down the road, very late for an important appointment. There is no way to get there on time without speeding. While driving 15 miles an hour over the speed limit, you pass a police car. What is the first thing that goes through your mind? “Oh, no! Maybe he didn’t notice me. Maybe he will not have time to get out through traffic to catch me.” Many things go through your mind. Yet I am sure there is one thing not going through your mind. It would sound something like this, "I drive at or under the speed limit more than half the time. Surely I will be able to tell the officer, and he will let me go." Saying this would be ridiculous. You know you broke the law, and it does not matter how many times you obeyed it. You broke it the minute you went over the set limit. You know you deserve a ticket. All the times you drove the speed limit did not negate a single time you went over it.
Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” (Galatians 3:10) Perfection is such a high standard. Yet if we want to earn our salvation, that is the only option. Most people in the world today would say they are going to heaven. When you ask them why, they will tell you it’s because they are a ‘good person.’ In their minds they see a set of scales with all their bad deeds on one side and all their good deeds on the other. They think as long as the scale tips in the direction of the good, God will let them in. I have known many Christians who think the same way. Some have found the truth, while others just can't let go. Instead of looking at God as He is described in the Bible, they play “If I were God.” “If I were God, I would show mercy because I am not nearly as bad as those other people.” Does it make God mean if He is just and will punish those who disobey? Is a judge mean if he sends you to jail for committing a crime? Would the judge say, "I know what you did deserves jail, however, here is my son who has committed no crime"? I will send him to jail in your place. No judge in the country would say that, yet because of God's love for us, He did. The question remains, are we willing to accept it? For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) If we could be good enough, Jesus would not have had to die. He went through our punishment in our place. If we could be good enough on our own, there wouldn’t be a Good Friday or Easter. Do not fall into the trap of believing you can be good enough to deserve God's love. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) Set aside a few minutes to contemplate what Jesus went through for you. Read the Scripture below. Think of His great love and sacrifice for you—for all of us. This is what Easter and Good Friday are about.
Cultivating (Additional Reading): John 19 - 20:1
“We Have the Cure”
Preparing the Soil (Introduction): I just spent the weekend with my 18 year old cousin. At the beginning of the year, doctors found that she has a very rare cancer and has, at best, 5 to 10 years to live. So, 28 years is her expected life span. Stopping to think about her prognosis, I realize that I would already be gone by now if that were my diagnosis at 18. My son and expected daughter wouldn’t be here, and I would have never known the home we live in presently. Thinking about your life since the age of 28 and all the things you would have missed can send you straight into depression. But if you think about what life would be without God through all that time, then it’s almost unfathomable.
Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): Easter weekend is always a great celebration of what Jesus did on the cross for us. And He didn’t stay there, He has risen! What is most exciting to me about Easter weekend is that the celebration doesn’t have to stop or be enjoyed just once a year; it’s a continual thing, just like our relationship with Him. So many people come to Easter or Christmas service expecting to leave the same way they came in, and yet their lives are changed forever. The goal isn’t to have a one time event, but the beginning of a new way of life with a whole new lifestyle. When the disciples met Jesus for the first time, they didn’t follow Him for a day and then go back to fishing or collecting taxes. No, they followed Jesus all the way through His death, burial, resurrection and beyond. There is no greater joy in this life than following Him, no matter how long or short our years on earth. The scariest part of life is going through it not knowing Him. Yet, there are people all around us who are walking dead: dead in their sins, searching for peace and chained in unforgiveness. Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. (Ephesians 2:1, NLT) We, however, have the cure, not only for their physical needs, but more importantly for their spiritual needs. "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 3:16) All it takes is each Christ follower listening and watching for the opportunity to openly share Jesus Christ and the cross. Sometimes it takes words, while other times it takes action, but in either case it takes a lifestyle, not just once or twice a year at Easter or Christmas, but throughout the whole year.
Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:12-13) Each Christ follower has an opportunity to share, not just with the family around us during holiday times, but also with those at work, at the grocery store, at the gym, or even the person you wave to across the street. Is it always easy? No, but there are dead people all around us who are searching for the answers to life, before and after death. My challenge to you (and me) this week is to find someone with whom to share the Good News when God opens the door. You never know if the dead person before you is soon to become alive. Take every opportunity!
Cultivating (Additional Reading): Revelation 3:20
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