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Philippians 3:7-8

April 13

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…

We gladly embrace Jesus as Savior. As Savior, He becomes the sacrifice in our stead. As Savior, He sets us free from sin. As Savior, He delivers us from death. Making Him Lord in our lives, though, requires a new level of submission and trust.

If Jesus is our Lord, we must obey Him. If He is Lord, He has the authority – and the right! – to govern our lives. If Jesus is our Lord, our opinions no longer matter; His will is of the utmost and primary importance. We choose Him and what He says. Every. Single. Time.

As Jesus taught the disciples one day, He asked, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). The point is clear. Loving Him, serving Him, making Him Lord requires more than lip service. If we love Him, we must keep His commandments (John 14:15).

When He is Lord, He leads us. He is our tender Shepherd. We know His familiar voice, and we will not follow another (John 10:4-5). We do not wander off on expeditions and adventures of our own. Always, He leads us in paths of righteousness for the sake of His name to do the things that honor Him most (Psalm 23:3). If we are careful to observe His commands, He will make us the head and not the tail (Deuteronomy 28:13). He will cause all the work of our hand to prosper abundantly (Deuteronomy 30:9).

Jesus came as the Suffering Servant. He did not come to do our will, but the will of His Father Who sent Him. Our responsibility is to follow His example. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith; He writes each one of our stories, and He alone has the ability to perfect them with every stroke of the pen (Hebrews 12:2). God has exalted Him and given Him the name above every other name. He truly is Lord.

He becomes our Savior in an instant, but making Him our Lord is a process. Some days, it can seem to be a minute-by-minute decision to place ourselves in the correct posture of bowed knee and submitted heart, to surrender to His purposes and His plan. Lay it all down to make Him Lord.

Blessing: 

Precious Jesus, please forgive me for the ongoing power struggle inside of me. Take Your rightful place on the throne of my heart. I surrender to Your purposes and plan. I lay down my will. You are my Savior and my Lord. Lead me. Guide me. Grant me grace to stand in Your strength and to walk humbly before You all the days of my life. In Your name…amen.

Today's Bible Reading: 

Old Testament

Joshua 7:16-9:2

New Testament 

Luke 16:1-18

Psalms & Proverbs

Psalm 82:1-8

Proverbs 13:2-3

 

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John 5:19

April 12

Then Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner’

Most of us do not respond positively to a dictator, someone who barks out orders with no regard or respect. Effective parents, employers, and leaders do not dictate responsibility, they demonstrate it.

Jesus remains our unparalleled example. He never imposed His will on another. He never sought to dominate or control. He watched His Father, and whatever He saw Him do, Jesus did the same in word and deed (John 15:15).

When we watch another demonstrate responsibility, we witness efforts that work. With his words and actions, he outwardly reveals what he believes inwardly. The importance of her words is made apparent by her behavior. The way that they act proves the value of the words that they proclaim.

When we believe and demonstrate the truths of the Bible, we can change our homes, our churches, our cities, our states, and even the nation. The New Testament church turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). They took responsibility over their newfound liberty in Christ. They appropriated the newly-endued power of the Holy Ghost. They demonstrated to the world what Jesus did not dictate to them.

Jesus has called us to demonstrate the difference. If you are upset at the government and its policies and politicians, vote your conscience in every election. Campaign for issues close to your heart. Run for local office. If you are disturbed by trends in your local school, volunteer in a classroom, join the parent-teacher association or run for the school board. If you are concerned about the direction of your home church, pray fervently, serve humbly, and speak God’s truth in love.

When we truly believe this Gospel message, we will demonstrate what we know to be true in our hearts. We will take responsibility for the freedom Jesus has granted us. Even though He has freed us from the expectations and demands of everyone, we willingly choose to become a servant to all to show off the wonder of knowing Christ. The power of the Holy Spirit inside of us is brought to bear in every situation in which we find ourselves.

Emulate Jesus’ example. Live it loud. Say it and display it. Demonstrate the difference!

Blessing: 

Dear Jesus, I long to be like You. Please help me to speak only the words that You would say. Help me to do only the things that You have planned for me to do. May the Holy Spirit inside of me change the atmosphere for Your glory. May my life demonstrate the things that are important to You, and may others be drawn to know You more. In Your name…amen.

Today's Bible Reading: 

Old Testament

Joshua 5:1-7:15

New Testament 

Luke 15:1-32

Psalms & Proverbs

Psalm 81:1-16

Proverbs 13:1

 

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Proverbs 25:28

April 11

Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls

Personal responsibility begins and ends with each one of us. While we cannot control every circumstance around us or many of the things that happen to us, we are responsible for how we respond and react.

In every place that we refuse to accept responsibility, we forfeit liberty. People who forfeit liberty surrender to dictators.

Most dictators in this life are not elected. A dictator overtakes and sets up rule. A dictator quells opposition, hoards all the power, limits the rights of his subjects, and abolishes freedom.

When we refuse to accept personal responsibility – when we blame, avoid, or play the victim – it creates a power vacuum into which an emotional dictator will swoop. When we refuse to take responsibility for our personal attitudes, we submit to emotional dictators. Rage, bitterness, jealousy, and offense are dictators that will overtake us and leave us defenseless against the wiles of Satan. Like an Old Testament city without its protective walls, the enemy will breach the barricade and pour in like a flood to steal, destroy, and kill (John 10:10).

Poor financial decisions become dictators when we are careless stewards over the resources that God has gifted to us. When we owe more than we earn, when we rob God by withholding our tithe (Malachi 3:8), when we ignore those in need, we relinquish our responsibility and our rights. A financial dictator will destroy relationships, steal our peace, and usurp our power.

No matter how we like to consider ourselves masters over the universe, we truly control nothing but ourselves. We have the power to respond and react in ways that bring honor to God, as well as health and harmony to our daily lives.

That power is rooted in relationship with Jesus Christ. When we welcome Him into every aspect of our lives, the Holy Spirit empowers us to live with self-control. Through the spiritual weapons that He provides, we can capture every thought, impulse, emotion, and action to bring it under the rulership of Christ (II Corinthians 10:5-6).

When we choose to do so, when we act as the responsible men and women of God that He created us to be, the opposition of the enemy is quelled. The Holy Spirit fills us with power for right living. We embrace all of the promises and provision of God. We dance in freedom.

Blessing: 

Omnipotent Jesus, I submit to Your reign in my life. May no other dictator ever take root in my heart. Help me to guard my mind and my actions, my responses and reactions so that I always honor You and demonstrate to others a more excellent way. In the name of Jesus…amen.

Today's Bible Reading: 

Old Testament

Joshua 3:1-4:24

New Testament 

Luke 14:7-35

Psalms & Proverbs

Psalm 80:1-19

Proverbs 12:27-28

 

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Mark 9:23

April 10

Jesus said to him, ‘If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes'

Jesus Himself said that if we can believe, everything becomes a possibility. As we ask for the things that we need from God, we have a responsibility in this equation, too. If we can believe, all things are within our grasp. If we can hang on to hope, we can receive. If we can keep the faith, we will find the answer.

As Christ-followers, we sometimes stumble over this obstacle. We stop believing and begin to endure. We stop believing that the situation will improve, and we simply endure the circumstances that trap us in their grip. We stop believing in a better government and endure the flawed machine that is now in place. We stop believing for better schools and send our children to the institutions that exist.

The temptation is to stop believing that the church can make a difference. We stop believing that the Gospel has the power to change the world. We stop believing that God has the ability to improve our emotions, our relationships, our health, or daily lives. We stop believing in the promises of God as alive, true, and available to us. We have laid down the weapons of our faith. We have lost our fighting spirit.

Stir up your faith again! Throw off the apathy that threatens to suck you into the undertow. Bolster your belief in our mighty God. Do not hope that God might answer your prayer; believe that He inclines to hear your slightest whisper and then dispatches a response before the words have left your mouth. Do not hope that an answer may emerge from the fog of confusion; trust in Jesus as the Answer to every question, the Way Maker, and the Mountain Mover! All things are possible to them that believe.

Do not just believe that God can – declare that God will! Declare that His blessings are alive. Declare that His words are true. Declare that He is the Answer to every conundrum. Believe that He is rising up on your behalf. Believe that He is coming to your rescue. Believe that He defends you in the fight. Believe that His generosity is coming your way. Because if you can believe it, God will do it!

Blessing: 

Heavenly Father, I confess that I am sometimes afraid and tempted to doubt when I am overwhelmed by circumstances that I cannot change. I am tempted to stop believing and simply endure. Jesus, stir up the embers of my faith and my belief that nothing is impossible, that I can do all things through Christ Who gives me the strength and ability. Help me to partner with You in the equation: my need plus my belief equals Your freedom to do the impossible for me. In Your name, I ask these things believing…amen.

Today's Bible Reading: 

Old Testament

Deuteronomy 34:1-Joshua 2:24

New Testament 

Luke 13:23-14:6

Psalms & Proverbs

Psalm 79:1-13

Proverbs 12:26

 

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Philippians 2:9-11

April 9

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father

When God saw the extent of Jesus’ sacrifice, our verse for today tells us that He exalted Him. He elevated and extolled Him. He gave Him a name that is above every other name. There is no one above Him or beside Him.

At the sound of that name, every knee in heaven bows. The book of Revelation tells us how the twenty-four elders will fall down before the Lamb. All the angels pause to revere the Great High Priest, the Victorious One.

At the name of Jesus, every knee on earth will bow. Every human being on earth will bow their knee to Him. Each person will choose to honor His sacrifice and humbly serve Him here now or will be forced later to bow to Him Who sits on the throne of a kingdom that has no end. Every one will worship the Almighty One, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

At the mention of that name, every knee under the earth will bow. Every power and every principality that was already defeated at Calvary will submit to the Alpha and Omega, the Lord of All. Jesus is now at the right hand of God in heavenly places. He is far above these powers and principalities, all power, all might, and dominion, and every name that has been named not only in the present, but in the time that will come.

It is not a matter of if – but a matter of when – knees will bend. Every created being will, one day, confess that He is indeed the Lord of lords. He is incomparable and unrivaled. God has put everything under Jesus’ feet (Ephesians 1:20-22).

As Joshua of old declared: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15).

Blessing: 

Matchless and Mighty Jesus, I choose You today. Show me Your will for my life. I choose Your plans over mine. I invite You as Savior, and I submit to You as Lord. I choose to serve You now and every day until we meet face to face in heaven where I will bow before You in worship and honor. In Your name, I ask these things…amen.

Today's Bible Reading: 

Old Testament

Deuteronomy 33:1-29

New Testament 

Luke 13:1-22

Psalms & Proverbs

Psalm 78:59-72

Proverbs 12:25

 

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Acts 5:30

April 8

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree

Freedom comes at the expense of sacrifice. Thomas Jefferson once said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” His statement has been proven true from Valley Forge to Afghanistan. Citizen soldiers raised their hands and swore to protect and defend this nation against all enemies foreign and domestic.

God loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to become the sacrifice for the sin that separated us from Himself. Jesus humbled Himself, wrapped Himself in flesh, and obediently went to Calvary. He became cursed for us by hanging on a tree (Galatians 3:13). The Lamb of God shed His blood to wash away our sins. His sacrifice bought our freedom. When we were captives to sin, He paid the ransom that released us.

Unlike the tree of liberty that is watered with the blood of patriots, Hebrews tells us over and over that Jesus made this sacrifice “once for all” (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12; 10:10). Jesus, our High Priest, entered the Most Holy Place – not with the blood of goats or calves – with His own blood to suffer once for all. Every separation, the barrier that sin had erected between us and God, was destroyed.

At the moment that Jesus died, the veil of the Temple was torn from top to bottom. This veil separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple. The veil itself was about 60 feet tall and six inches thick. It prevented people from entering the presence of God unworthily. The Holy of Holies housed the Ark of the Covenant, and it was there that God’s presence presided. It was there that the High Priest entered – only one time a year – to make atonement for the sins of the people.

As Jesus breathed His last, God Himself tore the veil from the top down. No more separation! No more barrier! We now have direct access to the Father because Jesus bought our freedom once for all. As the blood and water flowed, as the light and the love rushed from the Holy of Holies, a new covenant was born. Jesus Himself is our Mediator.

The cross truly became our Tree of Liberty. There, once for all, He purchased our salvation through His suffering and through the shedding of His blood. His sacrifice bought our freedom. Oh, what a Savior!

Blessing: 

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for sending Jesus to die in my place at Calvary. I am undone by the sacrifice He made to buy my freedom. But my heart thrills as the veil was torn! Only because of His shed blood can I come into Your presence. I present my life to You as my reasonable sacrifice in return. In the mighty name of Jesus…amen.

Today's Bible Reading: 

Old Testament

Deuteronomy 32:30-52

New Testament 

Luke 12:35-59

Psalms & Proverbs

Psalm 78:46-58

Proverbs 12:24

 

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Philippians 2:9-11

April 7

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father

Jesus Christ stretched out His arms and gave all that He had to give at Calvary. He emptied Himself to pay the price for our sin. His blood washed over our I.O.U. and set us free. In our lives, that sacrifice demands a proper posture and a proper proclamation.

As today’s verse signifies, our proper posture is a bowed knee in reverence to His name. That bending of the knee is an outward symbol of an inward work – a bowing of the heart that recognizes our deep need for Him and humbly accepts Him as Savior and Lord.

Our proper proclamation is the confession that Jesus Christ is Lord. Paul assured us that if we believe it in our hearts, if we confess with our mouths that God raised Jesus from the dead, we shall be saved (Romans 10:9). The word that saves us is as close as the tongue in our mouths, as near as the heart in our chests. This word of faith – boldly said right out loud – welcomes Jesus in and sets things right between us.

Our bowed heads and surrendered hearts acknowledge that He gave Himself in our place for a debt that we could not repay. How amazing that we will never receive what we truly deserve – mercy! Instead of being slaves to sin, He has given us power over it. Instead of condemnation, He gives us confidence to approach Him boldly. Instead of death, we are raised to life eternal.

Our bent knees and proper proclamation pay homage to our King of kings in recognition of a battle that He waged, for an enemy that He vanquished for us. How amazing that we receive what we could never deserve in our own puny efforts – grace! He made it possible for us to become co-inheritors with Him of all that heaven has to offer. His very presence enriches and enlivens our days.

Have you bowed your knee? Surrendered your heart? Spoken the welcoming words that make Him Lord? His sacrifice merits the proper posture and proclamation that position our hearts with His. We bow in reverence and boldly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Blessing: 

Dear heavenly Father, I bow my head in humility before You. I bow my knees to acknowledge Your Son, Jesus Christ, as Lord in my life. I surrender my heart to Your will. I open my mouth to declare Your Lordship and Your excellent greatness. Thank You for Your ongoing work in my life. In the mighty name of Jesus…amen.

Today's Bible Reading: 

Old Testament

Deuteronomy 31:1-32:29

New Testament 

Luke 12:8-34

Psalms & Proverbs

Psalm 78:26-45

Proverbs 12:21-23

 

 

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1 John 2:22-23

April 6

Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also

In today’s verse, the apostle John has harsh words for anyone who denies the Father and the Son, for anyone who rejects Jesus as the Christ. He declares that person antichrist – not the Antichrist, as the man who will rise up against God in Revelation – but one who exhibits a spirit that rejects God and His plan. Those who are not for Christ have pitted themselves against Him in an antichrist attitude (Matthew 12:30).

John goes on to say that the spirit of the Antichrist already abounds in the world around us (I John 4:2-3). Most of us would never blatantly deny Jesus, but can an antichrist attitude subtly invade our thoughts and the manner in which we live our lives?

When we refuse to read the Word of God to pick up the latest bestseller instead, what does this omission say? When we reject Jesus’ admonition to give and hoard every resource as if it were ours and not His, where have we placed our trust? When the Bible instructs us to pray without ceasing, and we fly through our days without giving Him a thought, how deep is this relationship that we claim? When we stand against His instructions, when we deny what He requests, isn’t this, in essence, against Christ? When we know right, and we do not choose to do right, it is antichrist.

We can easily point an accusing finger at the spirit of Antichrist in the culture all around us, but every time we choose to fall back on comfort rather than take a stand for conviction, the antichrist attitude wins. Every time we excuse corruption rather than speak against it, every time we soften the message of the Gospel rather than proclaim it unashamedly, antichrist wins. When we hide His light, when we do not stand in the day of evil, when we are more concerned with public opinion than honoring God, we bow to the antichrist attitude.

If we are for Him, if we are on His side, let us cast off our lukewarm lives. Let us fully embrace all that He requires. Let us deny ourselves, choose to sacrifice our will for His, and embrace the responsibilities, as well as the rights, of a life hidden in Christ. We are for Him.

Blessing: 

Dear heavenly Father, forgive me for the subtle ways that I have allowed an antichrist attitude to grow in me. Expel that spirit from my thoughts – transform my mind. Expel it from my actions – conform me to Your will. Give me strength to stand against it and to always stand firmly in You and for You. In the name of Jesus…amen.

Today's Bible Reading: 

Old Testament

Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20

New Testament 

Luke 11:37-12:7

Psalms & Proverbs

Psalm 78:1-25

Proverbs 12:19-20

 

 

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Ephesians 3:19

April 5

I pray that you know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God

French philosopher, Blaise Pascal, alluded to a God-shaped hole inside of each one of us in his work, Pensees. Augustine, in his Confessions, declared that “our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.”

We can find ourselves attempting to fill that aching void with the obligations, pleasures, and busyness of this life. We earn advanced degrees. We pursue careers with single-minded ambition. We devote ourselves to the health and welfare of our children. We aspire and achieve more and more, yet never seem to arrive. We often are left exhausted and empty by the pursuit. We can become so full of ourselves that there is no room for the God we claim to serve.

Will we deny our own ambitions to serve Jesus? There is a place of surrender where our will is exchanged for His, where we submit to His purposes, where we are filled with the fullness of God. We may need to draw boundaries, to be stingier with our “yes” to lesser things. When we pour out our lives to Jesus, we find ourselves empowered and energized by the Holy Spirit. When we co-labor with Christ, His plan is brought to fruition in our lives. Along the way, we find love, joy, peace, and goodness. Let us be filled with the fullness of God Himself!

Blessing: 

Heavenly Father, come fill us to the brim with You. Come in to abide with us, to fill us with the fullness of Your power and love. We submit our lives, our wills, and our desires to You. Make us part of Your plan. In the name of Jesus…amen.

Today's Bible Reading: 

Old Testament

Deuteronomy 28:1-68

New Testament 

Luke 11:14-36

Psalms & Proverbs

Psalm 77:1-20

Proverbs 12:18

 

 

 

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