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Daniel 7-9; Psalm 91; John 19

Daniel gets visions that terrify him, images and meanings he doesn’t understand.

26 “This vision about the 2,300 evenings and mornings is true. But none of these things will happen for a long time, so keep this vision a secret.”

27 Then I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for several days. Afterward I got up and performed my duties for the king, but I was greatly troubled by the vision and could not understand it. (Daniel 8:26-27, NLT)

They are explained to him, and the end result, after all the struggle, is victory.

26 “After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple. (Daniel 9:26, NLT)

Psalm 91 proclaims the Lord’s presence and protection. Terrors, disease, deadly traps, the Lord says:

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16, NLT

They mocked Jesus, slapped him, crowned him with thorns. Pilate knew enough to fear.

Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, “Look, here is the man!”

When they saw him, the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

“Take him yourselves and crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.”

The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.”

When Pilate heard this, he was more frightened than ever. He took Jesus back into the headquarters again and asked him, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer. 10 “Why don’t you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?”

11 Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” (John 19:5-11, NLT)

The love of the Lord and his victory are woven throughout the scriptures–the thread that breathed existence holds the world together. Forces that punish, manipulate, deceive are put in proper light. Battles waged on earth are fought also in heavenly realms. An Anointed One is killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing … taken down from a cross, wrapped in a cloth, and put in a tomb. It may have looked like an end, but the victory was and is always his.

This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him. (Psalm 91:2, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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Daniel 4-6; John 18

Daniel was devoted to God.  No matter what the new rules were from King Darius, he knew that it was God that needed to be obeyed.

“When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem.  He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” (Daniel 6:10 ESV)

Jesus, likewise, was obedient to the Father unto the end.  Peter tried to defend Him but Jesus told him it had to be done.

“Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear.  So Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?'” (John 18:10-11 ESV)

Jesus was born to bear witness to the truth.  He spoke it without having to defend Himself.

“Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘For you say that I am a king.  For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world-to bear witness to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37 ESV)

In this current age where truth is relative and like Pilate many ask “what is truth?’  let us all stay obedient to God’s word and His truth.

Amen, Kellie

 

 

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Ezekiel 46-48; John 16

I have been to Ukraine 30 times in the last 27 years. It is always good to catch-up with my friends and do ministry together. They are a hearty lot those Ukrainian Christ-followers. The love the Lord and speak longingly for His return.

The first question I ask them when we greet each other is, “How are you doing?” Or, “How have you been?” They have never, and I mean never, said “good” and they have never, and I mean never, said “bad”. What the have done is quote this verse to me every time.

33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John16:33 [ESV])

They have had it hard there. The country has been through a lot. A friend of mine was eight years old when a knock came on the door and the KGB came and took his parents (his father being a pastor) and they never saw them again. Our brothers and sisters in Ukraine know how hard life can be, but they also know the only place that is safe and has a future for them is with their Savior. What a blessing they are to me.

Where are you today? Are you going through heartache and sorrow? Is every aspect of your life going well for you? No matter where you are this moment, be like our Ukrainian friends and take heart, because no matter what Jesus has overcome this world. Some day he will set all things straight. What a day that will be.

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Ezekiel 43-45; Psalm 135; John 15

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” John 15:12-14 ESV

John 15 contains one of the most recognizable verses about love in the Bible. This statement is not just a command to His followers, but also a foreshadowing of the death He would die in order to save His friends. Jesus commands that those who follow Him follow His call to love others.

“You shall have just balances, a just ephah, and a just bath.” Ezekiel 45:10 ESV

God’s command to love others is a constant theme in the Bible as a whole. Dishonest scales and false measurements led to unjust gain by sellers and hurt buyers. Throughout Scripture God emphasizes the importance of justice and treating others fairly. As a Christian, it is important that I show Christ’s love to others throughout my day-to-day life. It is easy to do the right thing when everyone is watching and you get praised for it. It is harder when you have to sacrifice your pride and what you want for the sake of others.

You did not choose me, but I choose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. John 15:16-17 ESV

A motif that runs through John 15 is that imagery of a vine, it’s branches, and their fruit. Jesus Himself is that vine and I am one of His branches. If I stray from the Vine, then I will not produce Spiritual Fruit, for a branch is useless without the Vine.

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” John 15:26 ESV

Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to strength me and bear witness. I am weak and need Christ’s forgiveness for sinning against Him. I can draw near to Him, however, due to His sacrifice.

Your name, O LORD, endures forever, your renown, O LORD, throughout all ages. For the LORD will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants. Psalm 135:13-14 ESV

Dear God, Thank You for being compassionate not just to me, but to all humanity by sending Jesus to die for the sins of the world. Please help me follow Your command to love others as you have loved me. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit to strength and guide me. In your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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Ezekiel 40-42; John 14

While Jesus was making his ultimate journey to the cross, he continued teaching those around him. His words were often confusing to them because they didn’t have an understanding of the scope of what Jesus was doing.

The passages in Ezekiel were measurements and meaning to the temple. In John, Jesus speaks, and I listen. I have a sweet luxury of the written word, and I can return to it often and sit at my Savior’s feet.

15 If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. 20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

22 Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?”

23 Jesus replied, All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. 24 Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. 25 I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. 26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

27 I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. 28 Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. 29 I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.

30 “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, 31 but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going (John 14:15-31, NLT).

Jesus was fulfilling a requirement to show his love for the Father. And in these passages he takes time to explain to the disciples who he is, that he is making a way, that he is coming back–assurances and comfort. He tells them he’s not leaving them as orphans, but sending the Holy Spirit who will guide in truth. He leaves a gift, and it’s something only he can give, and we won’t find it in this world. This world won’t give the kind of peace that Jesus can. Jesus explains these things to the disciples while he is with them–and this is deeply meaningful to me: that he prepares them, comforts them, provides for them, assures them. There is so much love and care in this dialogue.

Lord Jesus, I’m grateful for the ability to read these words and read them often. You are the example I want to follow–your love, your wisdom, your obedience, your guidance, your provision. You show me how to be the kind of friend and parent who cares tenderly, lovingly, responsibly. This is relationship. This is treasure. Thank you, Lord. Thank you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 34-36; Psalms 86; John 12

“Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus-the man he had raised from the dead.  A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor.  Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him.  Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair.  The house was filled with the fragrance.  But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages.  It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.”  Not that he cared for the poor-he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself.  Jesus replied, “Leave her alone.  She did this in preparation for my burial.  You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”  John 12:1-7 NLT

Did Mary feel misunderstood?  Or was she so focused on Jesus that she didn’t worry about what anyone else thought?  She didn’t try to explain herself.  She knew that Jesus was her defender.  She was preparing for Jesus’s burial.  She knew that he wouldn’t be with them soon.  She was very purposeful about what she did.  How many times have I let the opinions of others get in the way of what He has called me to do?

“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean.  Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols.  And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you.  I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.  And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.  “And you will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago.  You will be my people, and I will be your God.”  Ezekiel 36:25-28 NLT

God gave the Israelites a new covenant that Jesus would ultimately fulfill.

Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory.  I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone.  But its death will produce many new kernels-a plentiful harvest of new lives.  Those who love their life in this world will lose it.  Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.  Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am.  And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.  “Now my soul is deeply troubled.  Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! Father, bring glory to your name.” John 12: 23-27 NLT

Is my heart receptive toward him or hardened? Am I living in my old ways or new?

“Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am calling on you constantly.  Give me happiness, O Lord, for I give myself to you.  O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.  Listen closely to my prayer, O Lord; hear my urgent cry.  I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble, and you will answer me.” Psalms 86:1-7 NLT 

Thank you Father for restoring what was lost.  For dying on the cross for my sins.  For putting your spirit inside me.  I pray that I would live by that power every day. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Ezekiel 31-33; John 11

The resurrection of Lazarus. There were so many things going on when we come to John 11. Jesus receives word that Lazarus is sick. He is petitioned to go quickly to heal him. Jesus waits two more days before traveling to see his friend. That’s where we come across the first character study. It’s with the disciple Thomas. Thomas later in the Gospels doubts the resurrection of Jesus, but here he is ready to die with Jesus. There were hostile territories they would be passing through and Thomas believes they may die before even reaching Lazarus. Jesus has told them that Lazarus has died, so we find Thomas stating the following:

16 So Thomas, called the Twin,2 said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16 [ESV])

Thomas was willing to die with Jesus in chapter 11 and later in this passage he witnesses the resurrection of Lazarus, but later doubts that the same thing could have happened to Jesus. Here he is courageous, later he is doubtful. What happened to Thomas along the way? None of us really know, but it brings out the fact that we need to stay in touch with Jesus and His power to change lives lest we too fall into a doubtful jaded place in our spiritual lives.

Jesus and the disciples get to Mary and Martha and see how distraught they are. How hopeless they are and even thought Jesus knows what’s going to happen, he weeps with them. Verse 35 is the shortest verse in the Bible…

35 Jesus wept. (John 11:35 [ESV])

Even in our darkest most emotional moments we are not alone. And on this side of eternity the one thing we know is that when we weep, Jesus weeps with us. He is our high priest and has suffered all that we have suffered. He stands with us and weeps as we weep. What a powerful picture of God’s love for us all.

That brings us to our third observation. The religious leaders instead of being convinced of Jesus’ Messiah-ship at this point are ready to kill Him. This is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Can you believe this? Read it for yourself:

49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation… (John 11:49-51 [ESV])

The darkness of the human heart can be very deep. Don’t be surprised, then, when you share the gospel with friends and family, if people who saw Jesus resurrect Lazarus are ready to kill Him. Our job — like Jesus — is to be faithful to the mission God has given us and let Him handle the consequences.

A couple of question this morning:

  • Have you lost your zeal for Jesus? Are you falling into a season of doubt. Ask Him to rekindle that love you have had for Him in the past.
  • Are you grieving over a lost loved one or a broken relationship? Remember Jesus cares and is weeping with you today.
  • If for some reason you stumbled across this blog by accident today and don’t know Jesus at all, what will it take? He has raised the dead, He has performed miracles way beyond what our minds can imagine. Yet today He wants to have a personal relationship with you. Please let Him into your life to have that relationship.

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