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Matthew 28

October 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 28

Jesus died a horrible death on the cross for us. His sacrifice means we have been saved from eternal death. But the story doesn’t end with Jesus dead and buried in a tomb.

On the third day, Jesus came back to life. But why?

The work had been done, right? He made the sacrifice. Our sins had been paid for with his death. So why did Jesus need to come back to life?

First, it is final proof that Jesus is who he claimed to be. If he had just died and been buried, he’s just some guy who died a tragic death. How are we to know that he was the Son of God who died for our sins? By conquering death, he shows that he truly is the Son of God.

Second, by displaying his power over death, Jesus shows us that he has the power to raise us from the dead. His resurrection gives us hope that death will not be the end for us either. We believe that we will be resurrected because Jesus was resurrected.

When the women discovered the empty tomb, they were filled with such joy, they had to tell everyone. They hurried back because they couldn’t contain their excitement. They wanted everyone to know that Jesus was raised from the dead.

Does Jesus’ resurrection fill you with such joy and excitement that you have to tell others?

 

Prayer for Today

Jesus, I am so glad that you conquered death! Your raising back to life gives me hope that you will raise me back to life. Your resurrection shows me the power you have to work in my life. I don’t want to keep this a secret. Give me the words to tell others this incredibly good news. Thank you for your death and your resurrection! Amen.

 

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” (1 Peter 1.3)

Matthew 27

October 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 27

Why did Jesus have to die?

It’s a valid question. Why did the Son of God have to come to earth and die? Was there not another way? He is God. Could he not have found another way to save the world?

We are all sinners (Romans 3.23). Sin is rebellion against God, and it separates us from him. The punishment for sin is death (Romans 6.23). Therefore, we deserve death and eternal separation from God.

But that presents a problem. God is love (1 John 4.16), and he created us out of love. He doesn’t want any of his children to die (2 Peter 3.9). In the Old Testament, God came up with a plan to save his people. They could use an animal as a substitute. The animal would pay the price of death so that the person wouldn’t have to die.

However, since the animal didn’t die voluntarily, it wasn’t a perfect sacrifice. Therefore, the people would have to make a sacrifice each year. This was all to foreshadow God’s ultimate plan.

The only way to have a perfect sacrifice, was if an innocent person (someone who had committed absolutely no sin) willingly died for the sins of everyone else. But how is that possible? We already know that we are all sinners, so how can there be a perfect sacrifice?

There is only one way. God himself had to die in our place. He had to become human and become our sacrifice. And that is exactly what he did.

That’s good news, right? We have been saved from eternal death because our God loved us enough to die in our place. Spend some time thanking God for his sacrifice, and let others know about this good news.

 

Prayer for Today

Dear God, thank you so much for loving me enough to become my sacrifice for sin. Thank you for sending your Son Jesus to die for me. Thank you, Jesus, for going through that horrible death so I could live. Thank you for taking my place. I cannot thank you enough, and I can never repay you. But I want to give my life back to you as a sacrifice. Help me to live for you. I love you so much. Amen.

 

“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

Matthew 16

October 2, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 16

In Matthew 16.13, Jesus takes his disciples to Caesarea Philippi, a town near the northern-most part of the land of Israel. Caesarea Philippi was home to a large cave which had a natural spring running out of the mouth of the cave. Local legend said that this cave was the entrance to the underworld, and a large temple was built there to worship Pagan gods.

The cave and temple were located at the base of a very large cliff. All kinds of evil acts occurred here. The worship consisted of prostitution and other kinds of sexual immorality. An unlikely place for a Jewish rabbi to bring his students.

The name of this terrible place was “The Gates of Hades.” Hades was the place of the dead in Greek mythology. They believed the gods went there for the winter. Worshippers would attempt to entice the gods to return in the spring with their sexual perversion.

All this helps us to understand Jesus’ statement in Matthew 16.18. Jesus asked his disciples who they believed he was. Peter pipes up “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” (verse 16). Peter realized that the idols that were carved into the rock were not alive; only the One True God—Jesus’ Father—was alive.

Jesus then replies to Peter in verse 18 by saying “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Jesus appears to be saying that he is going to build his church right here on this rock, the Gates of Hades. In other words, he will replace the evil of this temple with the righteousness of his church. This movement Jesus has started is going to change the world, and even the intense immorality of Caesarea Philippi won’t be able to slow it down.

The question to ask yourself is “Have I allowed Christ to build on my life?” Do you agree with Peter’s statement that Jesus “is the Christ, the Son of the Living God”? Have you allowed Christ to rid your life of immorality and anything that isn’t true? Or are you like the Gates of Hades: an entrance to death and a monument for immorality?

Examine yourself. Let Jesus take control and build upon your life.

 

Prayer for Today

Jesus, you are the Christ. You are the Son of the Living God. Remove from me anything that distracts me from you. Take away the sin in my life. I want you to build upon my life so that you can be glorified. Help me to take your glory everywhere I go, so that others may be freed from death. Amen.

 

“Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours.” Psalm 86.8

 

Check out this home video of the Gates of Hades in Caesarea Philippi:

 

*A special thanks to Ray Vander Laan, whose incredible research and teaching is the background for today’s devotional. You can find out more about his teaching at http://www.followtherabbi.com. The source for today’s devotional can be found on the Faith Lessons video Volume Five: The Early Church.

Matthew 10

September 22, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 10

Jesus sends out the 12 Apostles with these instructions: “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near’” (verse 7). I truly believe Jesus gives us these same instructions today. We need to share with others the good news of Jesus’ kingdom.

In verse 8, Jesus tells the disciples that they have freely received, so they should freely give. In other words, because Jesus has given them so much, they need to give to others. They need to share with others the incredible gift they have received from Jesus. The same is true for us. Because Jesus has blessed us so much, we need to tell others about him so they too can experience his blessings.

But I can hear you now: “I don’t know what to say. How do I tell people about Jesus without making people mad or sounding weird?” But look at what Jesus tells the Apostles in verses 19-20: “…do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Jesus says that God will speak through you! How cool is that?

Maybe that seems a little strange and mysterious. Well, it is. That is what makes it so awesome. The God of the Universe will give you the words to say. If you have truly allowed Jesus into your life, then he will work through you.

But that’s the key: “if you have truly allowed Jesus into your life.” Is Jesus your Lord? Have you let him change your life? If so, then share with others what he has done in your life. Don’t worry about what to say, just ask him to speak through you.

If you haven’t allowed Jesus to change your life, then why not? What is keeping your from giving him control? Dare to journey on an epic adventure with the King of heaven and earth.

 

Prayer for Today

Jesus, I submit to you. I love you and want to serve you. I want to give you control of my life. Use me to honor you and to help others. Speak through me so that I may share with others what you have done in my own life and what you can do in their lives. Help me to trust you. Amen.

“He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.’” Mark 16.15