Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Easter Devotional: Lay Down Your Cloak

Matthew 16:24

Scripture: Matthew 21:1-11, Matthew 16:24
Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting,
“Praise God for the Son of David!
    Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
    Praise God in highest heaven!”
Matthew 21:8-9

We've all heard the old tale. Guy and girl are out on a date, walking down the street when they come up on a puddle. The gentleman takes his jacket off and lays it over the puddle so the lady can walk across without getting her feet wet. This seems silly, but when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, His people greeted him with the same gesture. Matthew 8 says "most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him." While I'm sure the streets of Jerusalem were dirty, I don't think Jesus's followers were concerned about him getting a little dirt on his feet. I believe that by laying down their garments, they were displaying their willingness to bring glory to their savior regardless of what it cost them.
 Jesus tells us in Matthew 16:24 that if we want to be His disciples, we must turn from our selfish ways and take up our crosses. Sometimes this means giving up our free time to minister to someone who's hurting. It may mean ditching habits that don't honor God's word or donating money to a worthy cause instead of buying something we don't need, but really want. It could mean risking your reputation to share your story and bring someone to salvation. Whatever it may be, Jesus doesn't call His disciples to stand clean and comfortable while He does all of the work. He calls us to join him in the trenches where souls are saved and Jesus is glorified. 

 Dear Lord, today I ask for your forgiveness for the times I have stood on the sidelines and left you to work alone. I pray that you would help me to fulfill your command to lay down my selfish desires so that I may bring glory to your name.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Easter Devotional: You Are Not Alone In Your Suffering

Easter Devotional
Scriptures: Isaiah 53:3-6, Hebrews 2:18

"He was despised and rejected—
    a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
    He was despised, and we did not care.
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
    it was our sorrows that weighed him down."
Isaiah 53:3-4 (NLT)

Have you ever been through a tough time and felt completely alone? Have you bought in to the lie that your situation is evidence that God doesn't love you? I think we can all agree that we've felt this way at some point in our lives. 
 I want you to take some time today to think about Jesus' life here on earth. I don't mean the people He healed, the miracles He performed or his perfect example of love. Instead, I want you to reflect on the pain he endured because that pain serves a beautiful purpose

 For the short time Jesus was here, he was despised, rejected, betrayed, beaten and sentenced to a brutal death, none of which He deserved. The purpose of His suffering is realized in Hebrews 2:18: "since He himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested." Jesus, the king of kings and lord of lords, took human form and endured human anguish so that He can better relate to us, so He can better guide us and minister to our hearts in times of hardship.

Whatever you may be going through today, know that you have a God in heaven who loves you so much He was willing to trade his place on the throne for a life of agony to become your wonderful counselor.

Dear Lord, thank you for your willingness to live a life you didn't deserve so that you could be my comforter and counselor in times of need. I thank you that I do not have to feel alone in my suffering because you go before me. Lord, I pray that you would help me to remember that the trials of this life do not separate me from you, but, instead, draw me closer.
In Jesus' name, Amen.