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.
When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it."
What makes a diamond so valuable? Essentially, a diamond is just a rock -- a pretty, sparkling rock. Intrinsically, it is basically composed of the same earthly elements as other rocks, and is even usually pretty small in comparison. But diamonds are valuable because people love them. Boy, we spend entire savings accounts on diamonds because we love them. Unless diamonds were in demand -- unless they were loved -- they would have no value. In the same way, absent God's love for us, our lives would be without value. You see, your life is valuable not because you own assets, or give money to charity, or even because you are a good person and love others. Your life is valuable because you are loved by God.
You are loved by the Lord of heaven and earth, who formed your inwards parts (Psalm 139:14) and who "knew you before you were born" (Jeremiah 1:5). You are loved by the Creator of everything you've ever known, whose thoughts toward you are "more than can be numbered" (Psalm 40:5) -- "thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11). God so loved you that He gave His only begotten Son to die for you. Why? So that by believing in Him, you would "not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Whether you choose to believe it or not, God loves you. And whether you realize it or not, your life is invaluable because of His infinite love for you.
But imagine a diamond sitting lifelessly under glass in a store. If someone came and offered the full asking price for the diamond -- in cash -- wouldn't you think it absurd for the shopkeeper to refuse the sale? Why would he essentially render the diamond worthless, both to himself and to the potential buyer, by refusing the cash for it? Until the diamond is purchased, its value is not realized.
In the same way, Jesus Christ offers to pay -- in full -- the debt for sin of anyone who will believe in Him. And make no mistake, it's a steep price; only He could pay it. He sacrificed His very life as a ransom for ours, that we might no longer be "slaves of sin" (Romans 6:17). So why would we refuse? Why would we reject His love when our entire value rests in it? Why would we choose not only to render His love worthless, but to render ourselves worthless?
You see, we fool ourselves if we think we are anything apart from the love and grace of God. Jesus says in Mark 8:35 that "whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it." If you reject Jesus, you reject the value of our own life, but if you surrender to Him, He will save your life!
Let me encourage you today to surrender to Him anew. If there is anything you are holding back from Him -- anything you cling to because it is "too valuable" to give up -- surrender it to Him. Maybe you've never surrendered your heart to Him at all. Today is the day of salvation. Or maybe you're struggling through a difficult time in your life. Today is the day of restoration. Let God's love for you be your strength, your hope, and your reason for living. Let it be the foundation under your feet and the protection over your head. Let His Spirit wash over you like a liquid waterfall of love. He loves you! You are valuable because you are loved by God.
Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.
Jesus suffered many terrible things -- even dying on a cross. He warned His disciples of the unthinkable pain He would suffer, but they just didn't understand. How could they? Two thousand years later, we still have trouble wrapping our minds around the pain He endured, all for our sake. But He suffered for a reason. And even if the disciples didn't understand what would happen, Jesus wanted them to understand why.
Six days after telling them about His forthcoming crucifixion, Jesus led some of His disciples up to a mountaintop, where His clothes began to shine like snow. If you've ever seen the sun's light reflected off snow, you know it's bright; it hurts your eyes.
Jesus was transfigured on that mountaintop, shining with a brilliance that must have startled and amazed the disciples. What a sight it must have been! And though it was only a glimpse of what was to come -- He would be resurrected, completely transfigured, and sit at the right hand of the Father in heaven -- it was a profound foreshadowing. Jesus was making a point. After suffering comes ultimate change.
As believers, we have the ultimate hope that although we suffer and endure now, a time is coming when Jesus Christ will put a stop to all the hatred, all the evil, and all the suffering. And we who have put our faith in Him will be changed. Sure, we will suffer now, just as He suffered.
Yes, we will be rejected and feel the pain of rejection.
But thankfully it won’t last forever (though sometimes it feels that way). Jesus is showing us that in Him, no matter how good or bad our circumstances, we have a perfect hope in Him. We will soon be changed!"Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed--in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, "If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the LORD brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?" So they said to one another, "Let us select a leader and return to Egypt."
I love to travel -- to see new places and step outside of my comfort zone. But imagine traveling for 40 years -- without a plane, train, or automobile -- through barren wilderness. Talk about a long trip! Without even a clue of your destination, much less how you would feed yourself everyday, you could only trust God. And imagine that after 40 years, indeed, He had fed you, protected you, and led you every step of the way. Wouldn't you be absolutely thrilled to reach your destination after such a tedious journey? After seeing God bring you all these miles, over a span of more than fourteen thousand days, wouldn't you believe wholeheartedly that He could get you through one final day? The Israelites didn't.
After traveling 40 years through the wilderness, only the Jordan River separated the Israelites from the Promised Land. Literally only a day's journey away, they were so close... but something was wrong. They'd received reports that giants dwelled in the land -- "men of great stature" (Numbers 13:32) who were "stronger than we" (Numbers 13:31). And so instead of seeking the Lord, they began complaining. "If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in the wilderness!" (Numbers 14:2). Nevermind God's faithfulness to deliver them out of Egypt, or to deliver them across the Red Sea, or to provide manna for them as food everyday in the wilderness (Exodus 16:31).
To them, the situation seemed so hopeless that they would have rather spent potentially another 40 years traveling back to Egypt -- where they would again be slaves! But had they forgotten what a cruel, harsh place Egypt was? Couldn't they remember what a horrible life they'd left behind there, working around the clock, with no pay, no food, and forced to make bricks with no straw? Why would they second-guess four decades of God's faithfulness in light of a single obstacle ahead? Why would they complain? No doubt, complaining is easier than maturing.
You see, it's easy to complain. It's easy to grumble about a situation, or to point the finger at someone when things don't go right. But it's impossible to trust God and complain at the same time. The first sign that you're in the flesh is that you're complaining. A complainer will never mature, never grow, never progress in his walk with the Lord. If we are complaining, we are not listening. If we are accusing, we are not edifying. If we are attacking, we are not forgiving.
A complainer can't think clearly because he doesn't care about what is true -- only about what is self-preserving. A complainer can't take a step of faith because he can't hear God's voice over his own bemoaning.
It takes faith to grow in the Lord. Hebrews 11:6 tells us, "Without faith, it is impossible to please God." You don't want to be someone who misses out on the Promised Land because you didn't have the faith to take the final step. The Israelites didn't have the faith and, except for Caleb and Joshua, they all died before reaching the Promised Land.
In life, we all face obstacles -- sometimes extremely difficult circumstances -- but is God not able to overcome them? Why, then, should we fear? Why should we complain? Let us not be like the Israelites, who ignored the extreme faithfulness of God at the mere idea of defeat, only to defeat themselves by complaining.
Jesus said to [two of His disciples], "Go into the village opposite you; and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it and bring it. And if anyone says to you, 'Why are you doing this?' say, 'The Lord has need of it,' and immediately he will send it here."
So they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door outside on the street, and they loosed it. But some of those who stood there said to them, "What are you doing, loosing the colt?" And they spoke to them just as Jesus had commanded. So they let them go.
Clouds of dust were probably a familiar sight along the busy dirt road that ran through Bethphage. Foot traffic was surprisingly heavy through this small, mountain village, because it was located between two bigger areas, Jerusalem and Bethany. But amongst all the people, animals, and goods that were constantly in motion along the road, it would be easy to miss the young donkey that sat tied up in front of one of the homes that lined the street. Owned by a wealthy local resident, this donkey had never been ridden by anyone. And on this particular Sunday, the owner had no plans for anyone to ride it. But plans change.
As two unidentified men approached the donkey and began to untie it -- in broad daylight, without asking permission -- the owner, or someone working for him, spoke up. "What are you doing?" he asked, probably accusingly. He wasn't alone, either; he had friends with him to back him up. But with five little words, everything changed. "The Lord has need of it," said the two men. And with that, the owner asked no questions, made no hesitation, and immediately let them go with the donkey.
Notice that the owner never asked the men, "Who are you?" Nor did he ask them, "Who is the Lord?" Nor did he ask them, "Why does the Lord need this donkey?" He didn't even ask them, "Will I get it back?" No, after hearing that the Lord needed it, he "immediately" gave them the donkey (Mark 11:3). And that day, Jesus Christ rode that donkey through the streets of Jerusalem, exactly as Zechariah had prophesied He would (Zechariah 9:9), and on the exact date that Daniel had prophesied it would take place -- 483 years, to the day, after Artaxerxes gave the command to rebuild the temple (Daniel 9:24-27).
Who would have guessed that a lowly donkey, tied up on a busy dirt road, could play such an important role ushering in the Savior of mankind? The donkey's owner? Maybe... maybe not. If he knew the scriptures, he might have had an inkling of what was happening when the two men, who were disciples of Jesus, told him that the Lord needed his donkey. Or he may have had no idea. Either way, he was obedient.
You know, if we have anything in this life, we should be ready to immediately turn it over to Jesus if He needs it. We all have things that God can use to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ: our resources, our time -- our very lives. But the more valuable the sacrifice, the more questions we tend to ask. "Why do I need to give this to the Lord?" "Will I get anything in return?" "Is the Lord really asking me to give this to Him?" We should model the donkey's owner, who may not have known the details of God's plan, but who clearly understood His purpose.We have no idea how God can use our simple sacrifices for His glory -- but we must be willing to let go and give Him control. We must be willing to change our plans. We must be willing to give Him everything, even when we're not guaranteed anything in return. It's a thrill to see God use our simple everyday sacrifices for His grand purpose. But we must trust His purpose, even when we don't know His plan.
And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.
We all have a built-in sense of justice. When we see commercials of starving children, we feel bad because we know they don't deserve to go hungry. When we see criminals convicted and imprisoned, we feel good because we know a criminal deserves to be punished. We desire fairness, because without fairness, chaos reigns. Thank goodness God is a fair God, a "God of justice" (Isaiah 30:18). Thank goodness the devil is doomed to failure because God is "a just judge" (Psalm 7:11) who "sends forth justice to victory" (Matthew 12:20). But where do we fit into this picture? Who are we, but sinners? Why would God not destroy us, too, since He "is angry with the wicked everyday" (Psalm 7:11)? Thank goodness God is a God of forgiveness.
You see, if we deserve anything, it's death. God doesn't owe us anything. Romans 3:23 says, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." We are utterly and completely at God's mercy... but thankfully, "mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:13). For some reason, God forgives all those who seek His mercy -- and that reason is love. He loves you so much that He was willing to be killed in your place, that justice might be served, and that you might be forgiven. God is a God of justice because He is perfect, but He is a God of forgiveness because He is love (1 John 4:8).
Consider this: "If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1 John 4:11). In fact, "if someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? (1 John 4:20).
No doubt, forgiveness is not easy. It requires sacrificing your own sense of justice. It demands showing mercy to someone who you don't believe deserves it. But Jesus showed you mercy when you didn't deserve it, and it cost Him His life. It surely wasn't easy, it wasn't without pain, and no one even forced Him to do it -- but He did it because He loves you more than you can understand. After all, no one could ever sin against you as much as you have sinned against God -- and still, He forgave you. How, then, can you say you love God if you don't forgive those who sin against you?
Don't be fooled. If there's someone today whom you have not forgiven, your relationship with that person is not all that suffers -- your relationship with God suffers, too. This is between more than just you and the person you have not forgiven -- this is between you and God. James 2:13 says, "Judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy." Our entire hope rests in the mercy of God, and if we forfeit His mercy because we are unwilling to show mercy ourselves, we spit in the face of Jesus. We make His sacrifice of no consequence to us, and we render His love powerless in our lives.
Today, make things right. Forgive and ask forgiveness. Maybe it's picking up the phone and calling a family member. Maybe it's driving 200 miles to sit down with someone. Don't worry about how they might react, or if they will reject you. Jesus knew that many would reject His forgiveness, yet He still sacrificed His life. He knew it would be painful, but He did it anyway. Today, show the mercy that God showed you, and unleash the power of His love in your life.
"Have you not even read this Scripture: 'The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes'?" And they sought to lay hands on Jesus, but feared the multitude, for they knew He had spoken the parable against them. So they left Him and went away.
There is true, supernatural power when the people of God gather together. Look at what happened when Jesus told this parable, referring to Himself as "the stone which the builders rejected," but which has become the "chief cornerstone." He was claiming to be the Messiah, but the Pharisees were upset that someone would make such a claim. In fact, they were so angered, they attempted to take hold of Jesus. But fearing the multitude, they ran away.
Wow, what a statement about the people of God! What the Pharisees experienced was sort of like a loving Christian "mob." You see, the Pharisees were pretty ticked off that Jesus Christ claimed to be who He was. They weren't looking for a Savior to come riding lowly on a donkey; they were looking for the proverbial knight in shining armor, riding a white horse. They weren't looking for the Redeemer to be a humble servant; they wanted a dictator and a ruler to lead them against their enemies. But here, surrounding Jesus, was a multitude of people full of love, kindness, and devotion -- and the Pharisees were scared of them. They didn't fear the people because of their physical superiority, though. They were scared because they saw the number of like-minded people who loved Jesus and would do anything for Him.
Let me ask you this: When you walk into your church or home fellowship, do you sense a oneness and a common love for Jesus Christ and for each other? Can you feel it when you just walk in? Is there an overwhelming sense of Christ's love completely permeating your meeting places? As believers, Jesus has called us to love one another (John 13:34) and to "go and make disciples" (Matthew 28:19) -- and He has given us the Holy Spirit to empower us to do these amazing tasks. The Holy Spirit empowers us to be the people full of love, kindness, and devotion that the Pharisees feared. No doubt, when we, as a unified body of believers, are tapped into the awesome power of God, there's nothing that we cannot do or handle.
The Bible says that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:39), and I think that others can feel that when we gather together. So, as Hebrews says, don't forsake the gathering together (Hebrews 10:25). There is real power in our numbers; we are truly world-changers through the power of Jesus Christ
Then He said to them in His teaching, "Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, who devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation."
When Jesus hung on the cross, do you think He was worried about looking spiritual? Do you think He died a torturous, humiliating death because He wanted respect? Of course not! If it was respect He wanted, He would have avoided the cross. If He wanted to look spiritual, He would have hung out with the scribes and Pharisees, reciting long-winded prayers, sitting in the best places at feasts, and wearing long robes to look impressive. But Jesus didn't come to impress; He came to serve. Love motivated Jesus.
You see, everything Jesus did, He did out of love. He wasn't playing games, and He wasn't "playing church." When He hung on the cross, the only thing on His mind was the sinner who would be saved from an eternity of darkness. He was thinking not about His reputation, but about the prodigal He loved even more than His own life. He was thinking about you.
As believers, it's easy to fall into the trap of wanting to "look spiritual." For the religious people in Jesus' time, this became their primary concern. When the crowds started talking about John the Baptist, the scribes and Pharisees were impressed by the buzz they were hearing, and went to the wilderness to see him. But Jesus asked them in Matthew 11:7-8, rhetorically, "What did you go out in the wilderness to see, a reed that was shaken in the wind or somebody dressed in king's apparel?" See, these religious people didn't really want to hear the Gospel that John was preaching; they wanted to look good in front of their constituents. They weren't looking for a humble messenger of truth; they were looking for a popular preacher with a dapper sense of style.
Why do you go to church? Is it because the pastor or preacher is decked out and all the rage? Or because you want to look godly? Or because of the rich people that also attend? I hope not. Those were the very motivations of the people who plotted to kill Jesus -- not worship Him. Our attendance at a church service, our ministry to each other, our outreach to the world -- these things should not be motivated by what people will think of us, but by love. We should worship and serve the Lord because we love Him even more than we love our own lives. We shouldn't be thinking about our reputation or stature; we should be thinking about Him.Let me encourage you today to stop worrying about what people think of you, and fall in love with Jesus. Don't be concerned about sitting in the "best places" in order to be seen by others. Don't worry about looking spiritual. Simply "love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30). Truly, let love be your motivation.
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