Matthew 9:35-36, Mark 11:
Matthew 9 is a great display of the heart of Jesus. In the middle of His ministry, He looks out at the crowd and has compassion. He sees the crowds that are coming to Him in their true state. They are helpless and harassed. The people are plagued by illness, distressed by poverty, overwhelmed by anxiety and depression, and burdened by oppression. Worse, they are unable to improve their situation. They have no answers. Like sheep without a shepherd, they are helpless against predators and the natural hazards of this world. Since the fall of man in the garden, this has become the natural state of humanity. They are beset by worries and cares, and trapped in the snares of the enemy.
Jesus stood in stark contrast. He came to destroy all the works of the devil. He came healing the sick, raising the dead, opening blind eyes, and declaring the way of the Lord. He was immediately recognized by the hurting masses. His fame spread far and wide. People would travel long distances to see Jesus. They knew they needed something or someone. He was and is the answer. As Jesus travels back to Jerusalem before His crucifixion and death, the people worship Him and cry ‘Hosanna’. Hosanna is a cry that means ‘Lord, Save Us!’
Although the world is often deluded and deceived, it is still crying out for a savior. The heart of all of humanity is longing for communion with God, for relief from torment, and for a peace that only God can bring. The answer is Jesus. He is called ‘Emmanuel’ – God with us. No longer alone and afraid, forced to brave the dangers of the world without guidance, Jesus has come to save us from sin, cleanse us from unrighteousness and to be a true shepherd. It is through Jesus that we are free from the harassment of the devil, secure in the arms of our savior. It is this freedom and security that we have to offer others. The same Jesus that rescued us is available to all those around us. To those who are caught in sin, bound by mental illness, harassed and helpless, crying out ‘Hosanna’ – Lord save me!, we must be a light on a hill, pointing the way to their help and salvation. Today may you receive the comfort of the savior in every situation, and spread this comfort and saving grace to all those around you!
The book of Habakkuk begins with a dialogue between Habakkuk and God. After Habakkuk’s second outcry, Habakkuk declares that he will station himself on the tower, stand on the watch, and look for God’s answer. In the place of prayer, Habakkuk has brought a complaint of injustice to God the Father, the judge and ruler of all.
Prayer is not only making our requests known to God. Part of prayer is receiving God’s answer. There is a place in prayer of active stillness, waiting for God to speak through His word, the Bible, and through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The watch of the prayer warrior takes place in the security of God’s presence. The shelter of His wings is the refuge, the fortress that the sentry stands in watch. Like a soldier on watch at the top of the battlements, there is a place in prayer of stillness, scanning the horizon, expecting and waiting on God’s reply.
Just as Elijah prayed for rain, and then sent his servant to look at the sky, so all who pray should press on in prayer and watchfulness, until expectation turns to faith. The seventh time the servant looked, he saw a small white cloud. Elijah’s faith became sight. God had answered. When the evidence of God’s answer appeared, Elijah ran with supernatural power granted by the Spirit of God. As you go to God in prayer, may you watch with expectation in the secret place of God’s presence, and may the evidence of God’s answer release you to run in the power of the Holy Ghost!
It is human nature to look back fondly on portions of our past. We remember simpler times with family and friends. It is hindsight that allows us to look back on these days with fondness. The clarity that comes with time and a knowledge of what was to come helps shape our view of happy times without trouble.
Often, the times we look back on as carefree were not so in the moment. The issues of life that we now realize as inconsequential or the stress we now see as false fears were often just as present in the past. In light of the present, we look back on the past and see so many of the problems and worries of the past as insignificant.
In Matthew chapter six, Jesus instructs us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. It is when we correctly align our focus on Jesus that all of our basic needs are met. When we focus on God, His goodness, and His Kingdom, it releases us from the prison of worry. Then, we are able to let go of the unnecessary cares and worries about tomorrow.
As we trust God, and focus on the righteousness of Jesus, it allows us to enjoy the moment. We are able to live in God’s present goodness, and to enjoy the new life that Jesus has given us, a new life free from sin and shame, and a life filled with the blessing of the Lord. It is in this mindset that we are able to live our “halcyon days” in the present, no longer only finding joy in the past, but eagerly looking forward to the mercy, grace and goodness that God has planned for us each morning. Today, may the stresses and worries about tomorrow roll away, and may the blessing of God bring you an expectation for good things!
Joining the choir of Heaven should be met with eager expectation for every believer. As a people who have accepted Jesus into our heart, heaven is now our natural home. Christians are no longer children of this world, but of the world to come. Revelation 4:6-8 gives an awesome picture of just one aspect of heaven. It is a picture of continual worship, honor and praise to God the father, and Jesus, His son, they declare, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
It truly is an awesome display of worship to God. Our worship here on earth shouldn’t look different. In our time with God, whether that is our personal time, our time in church, or with our family, we should be worshipping God like the creatures and elders do in heaven. Their words are entirely focused on God, not themselves. They declare how holy God is, how worthy He is to receive honor and power, and declare how He created the world. Along with that comes a physical demonstration. The elders bow and cast their crowns before the throne of God. Today, let’s spend some time in worship to God, and let’s focus are worship not on ourselves, but just on the character and majesty of God, His nature as our Creator, King, and Savior, and let’s worship Him not just in words, but in physical demonstration. Let’s look like we are participating in heaven!
Isaiah 40:28 -41:1
In this passage, Isaiah exhorts the people of Israel on who God is, and to wait for, or wait upon, the Lord. It is natural for us to rely on our own power, on our own strength to attempt to accomplish our goals, or overcome the obstacles in our life. Here Isaiah reminds the people that the strength of God is inexhaustible, His understanding has no limits. He is the creator of the universe. No matter how strong we are, or how much endurance we have, there is a limit to our power. There is a breaking point for every human, young or old. Only the Lord has no limits. It is the strength of the Lord, and His power, that will enable us to perform the works of God. God calls all of us to a life that cannot be achieved without Him. We must renew our strength from the bottomless reservoir of God’s power.
Access to God’s strength is revealed in verse 31. “But those that wait for the Lord…” Isaiah says those that WAIT. In a culture of busyness, waiting can seem like a waste of time. However, waiting for someone shows their importance. Often you can see how important someone is on whether people wait for them when starting a meeting or a project. Also, waiting comes with expectation. We wait for the Lord because we expect Him to arrive. In the presence of the Lord there is a renewal of strength that will grant supernatural endurance. In all you do, wait for the Lord.
1 Peter 5:6-7
In life there will be times of cares and anxiety. Each person has different ways of dealing with adversity, and coping with turmoil. In 1 Peter, we see instruction on handling the troubles of life in the light of Jesus Christ. Peter instructs the church to humble ourselves. The path to peace in the midst of turbulent times starts in humility. It is humbling to admit that we don’t have control of the situation. God has not called us to be self-sufficient. We are not to be independent, but to be dependent on Him. By acknowledging our own lack of control, we allow ourselves to both ask for help from God, and allow Him to direct our paths and actions. Our relationship with God determines how easily we are able to let go. The more experience we have with God’s goodness, knowing that He cares for us, the easier it is for us to give Him the reins in the middle of difficult situations. It is a matter of trust.
The word ‘cast’ means to throw. We are to cast our cares upon God. This implies letting go of our cares. It can be easy to take our cares to God in prayer, and then to pick them back up and take them with us as soon as we say ‘amen’. The Christian is instructed in scripture to throw our anxieties and cares upon God; to let Him carry them. Jesus told us to come unto Him all who were weary and heavy-laden, all who were burdened. As Jesus takes our cares upon Himself, we are able to rest in Him, knowing that He is interceding for us to God the Father, and that He is in control of our situation. It is time to let go of our anxieties, to throw them at the feet of Jesus and leave them there, in His hands. May a humble heart allow you to entrust your cares to God, throwing them at His feet, and may you enjoy peace and rest in Jesus.
Psalm 3:3, Psalm 42:11
Before Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus speaks to His disciples about what is to come. In the midst of communicating the truth about the difficult events to follow, He comforts and encourages His disciples about what is to come, telling them, “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.”
The disciples still were unprepared for what was to follow. As Jesus was brought before Pilate, tortured, and crucified, the disciples watched in dismay. They were fearful for their lives, afraid that the same fate would happen to them. Peter experienced shame and guilt for betraying Jesus after swearing to go to the death with Him. John had the gut-wrenching experience of consoling Mary, Jesus’ mother, as she watched Jesus’ slow execution. They all had lost their leader. The hope in the salvation of Israel would be tested to its maximum.
With the experience of life comes moments of great trial. These trials come with powerful emotions that can sometimes seem too great to bear. In spite of what we may feel, those that have Jesus in their heart may always find peace. During David’s time of calamity the Bible says he “encouraged himself in the Lord.” Psalm 42 is an example. David speaks to himself, encouraging himself to trust in the Lord, his salvation. As we exhort ourselves in the goodness of God, our mind and emotions are lightened. With a knowledge of Jesus comes a hope that doesn’t disappoint. Jesus has overcome the world, He is the salvation out of every care and trouble. He brings hope to hopelessness, an end to grief and sorrow. Jesus truly is The Lifter of Our Head. As you find yourself in Jesus may all sorrow, grief, fear, pain and hopelessness cease, and may the joy of the Lord, which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Jesus today!
Paul’s gives instruction to the Philippian church to always rejoice. It is strengthened when he repeats the command, “again I say rejoice.” To rejoice is to feel or show great joy or delight. Paul’s instruction is to always feel and show delight in God.
It is not always easy to be in joy. Circumstances and situations in life can test our mind and emotions. The hurdles of life can loom large and take our focus away from who God is to us, and what He has done. Nehemiah declared to the people “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” If the enemy can take our joy, we can be weakened.
The ability to show and feel delight comes from a knowledge of who we are in Jesus, and what He has done for us. When we remember what Jesus has done, taking away our sin and shame, and dying on the cross so that we have an eternal inheritance with God the Father, the joy of the Holy Spirit wells up from within us, strengthening us in every way. When we make a conscious effort to rejoice, we are able to take our mind away from the worries and stresses of the future, and away from the regrets of the past. We are in the moment enjoying what Christ has done for us.
As we rejoice in the Lord, our faith is built, our attitude brightens, and the light of God begins to brighten what is around us. Rejoicing in the Lord frees the believer to enjoy and to make the most of this life, eagerly awaiting the next. Today, may you rejoice in the Lord and be strengthened to praise your way over every obstacle in Jesus’ name!
Lamentations is short book of poetry expressing the hurt and sorrow of the Jewish people after the siege and destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. The siege and destruction of the city was truly horrific and devastating. Worse, through the prophet Isaiah and Jeremiah, the destruction was declared as a result of the judgement of the Lord for the sins of Israel. It was truly a time to weep. However, in the midst of Lamentations, a glimmer of hope is found.
The writer declares ‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning.’ The ability to write these words in the midst of the destruction and desolation that permeated Israel’s view comes from a true revelation of the character of God. Even in the midst of failure and the terrible consequences of sin, the mercy of the Lord is present. God’s love and goodness does not depend upon our own behavior. His faithfulness, kindness, and mercy are who He is; they are His character. Despite our own actions, good or bad or our current situation, God’s mercy endures. Not only is it present and available in our lives, His mercy is fresh and new each day. Each moment we breathe is a moment where God’s mercy is available to us. The forgiveness that is available through Jesus Christ provides the promise of right-standing with God. Unlike the Israelites, we are no longer subject to the curse of The Law and its consequences. While we still may face natural consequences for our actions, the faithfulness of God, and the intercession of Jesus Christ and His blood provide the promise of mercy.
No matter what situation or trial we face, we cannot allow our circumstances to obscure of view of God’s character. His faithfulness is ever-present His goodness and love is unbounded. Now, through what Jesus has done, we no longer have to wait for God’s restoration. It has already been made available through Jesus Christ. Truly, His mercies are new every morning. Today, may you realize the goodness, faithfulness, mercy, and steadfast love of God the Father through Jesus Christ!
Psalm 94:19-22, John 14:16-18
Before Jesus left earth, He told His disciples “Peace I leave with you… Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” God is a god of peace. In the passage above, the Holy Spirit is called the Comforter. He is a spirit of Comfort. In the midst of trouble or stress, believers have the person of the Holy Spirit who will bring peace and comfort to every situation. There are many ways to deal with stress. Many times we can relax with distractions like sports, movies and TV; we can alter our thinking with caffeine, energy drinks, alcohol, or other substances; or we can de-stress by talking with friends or our spouse. These things can be healthy or unhealthy, but people who have received Jesus Christ into their heart have the Holy Spirit as the ultimate provider of comfort. Times of prayer and worship draw us closer to the Comforter, who is able to wash away every care. Psalms 34 says “I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears.” Whatever situation we are in, and whatever pressures we may be feeling, the Holy Spirit is available to us. As we draw closer to Him in prayer, we learn more about His personality. We are able to draw comfort and peace from His presence. He is an ever-present help in time of need. May you receive the comfort of God today!