On Monday morning, Jesus went back to Jerusalem after spending the evening in Bethany.Today, he would curse a fig tree and it would wither, and cleanse the temple of pretentious religious men.The lame followed him, children sang his praises and the chief priests tried to kill him but couldn't because the multitudes adored him.
As He walked toward the city, Jesus stopped beside a fig tree because He was hungry.Small figs often appear from the sprouts of the previous year, preceding the larger figs which come from the new growth.The tree was full of leaves and could therefore be expected to have fruit.But it had nothing but leaves!It promised much but provided nothing!
This pretentious but barren tree was an emblem of Israel, bustling with religious activity but no substance or sincerity; tremendous promise but no performance.Some churches are like that today; they resemble a place to feed the spiritually starved who attend, but stop short of offering food to take away the hunger.By cursing the tree Jesus was predicting the downfall of Israel as a nation which brought forth leaves but no fruit.Once the Land of Promise, it now stood as a pretentious but barren nation, incapable or unwilling to provide anything which would take away the real hunger of the world.
GospeLines Prayer:MY LORD AND MY GOD... in your church we have confused activity with fruitfulness, replaced spirituality with emotionalism, and substituted performance for worship.We have enticed the multitudes with our bling bling and state of the art technology, but have failed to give them what they really need.We have lost our way.Restore us to the mission for which we were called, to unapologetically feed the world with the Word of God, the ONLY way to find everlasting life. Amen and amen.
Did the Gospel writers make too little of this day?Imagine the blur of emotions as Jesus tore into the wicked men in the temple.With all the rumors about Him it is no wonder that they fled the scene in fear as they did.But as quickly as evil ran from the Lord, mercy drew the “whole crowd” toward Him to hear His teaching.
The barren fig tree
Second Cleansing of the Temple
Experience the Bible
After you have read the suggested scripture, reflect upon the application for today and think about your answer to the question below:
1.If worship is compared to a stage production which includes actors, prompters, and the audience, match the groups as you believe it should be.Don’t read the answers before giving your response.
b. Staff (pastor, worship leader, etc.)
b. Staff (pastor, worship leader, etc.)
≈ Devotional for Tuesday, April 7, 2009
"The Greatest Commandment"
Tuesday – Matthew 22:34-40
(See Part One & Part Two below)
Jesus spent the day dodging the deadly religious and philosophical projectiles hurled by the Pharisees and Sadducees.It was to be his last day to spend time in the Temple, a place he remembered and loved from his childhood, where at age 12 he amazed the local religious leaders with his wisdom and understanding.On this Tuesday, he continued to impress them.
“What is the greatest commandment?” the Pharisees asked.Jesus must have looked at the little leather boxes (phylacteries) they wore on their foreheads, which contained the tiny parchments of the Law (Schema).His answer quoted the very words which his adversaries carried with them for all to see.Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your faculties.”
Now why would the Father give us a commandment like that?Oh, my dear friend, do not hasten past this too quickly; you will hear the heartbeat of heaven if you but listen!This is not just a commandment for us to obey.It is a plea from your heavenly Father.“LOVE ME,” he begs us.The message sent to us is that Jehovah God wants to be loved by us!This One and Only God of all creation calls me out to love Him.I am so humbled by that thought.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, forgive me when I am a selfish brat.I DO love you.I love you, O my God, I LOVE you! Amen and amen.
This was a busy day for our Lord, so that the lesson is broken into two parts.Since the Bible is silent about Wednesday, part two could be tomorrow’s Bible Study.
Fig tree withered
Jesus’ authority is challenged
~The 2 sons
~The Wedding Banquet
~Tribute to Ceasar
~The Greatest Commandment
Experience the Bible
1.Jesus’ authority is challenged:
When verbally attacked a person may deny the charge, downgrade it, begin arguing, or answer by means of a “counter question,” as Jesus did. (According to Mark, Jesus made use of the counter question eight times:2:7-10; 2:18-22; 2:24-28; 3:22-30; 8:11-13; 10:2-12; 11:27-33; and 12:18-27)Imagine that someone questions you in a manner that challenges the authority of the Bible.How will you answer in these scenarios, using the counter question method if appropriate:
a. “How could Jesus be God and the Son of God at the same time?”
b. “If God is love, why does He allow some people to become sick with cancer and die so young?”
2.Parable of the tenants:
Jesus illustrated two qualities of God in this parable:God’s Patience, and God’s Punishment.How has God shown patience with our nation?How and why might God’s punishment come upon us?How can we change the certain consequences of our actions?
3. Effective prayer presupposes a loving, forgiving heart (Mark 11:25):
Why is a forgiving spirit a prerequisite to receiving God’s forgiveness?How often are your prayers “falling on deaf ears” because of something you cannot let go?
Jesus’ question about the Christ
Jesus denounces the Scribes and Pharisees (7 woes)
Gentiles (Greeks) seek Jesus
Signs of things to come:
~Jews reject Jesus
~Destruction of the Temple foretold
~Destruction of Jerusalem
~Signs of Christ’s coming
Parables of warning
~Be on guard!
The Last Judgment is described
The conspiracy of betrayal
Experience the Bible
What lesson can you share from the story of the Widow’s offering in Mark 12 and Luke 21?
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, April 8, 2009
“Daddy, Help Me!”
Thursday – Luke 22:39-46
Auschwitz struck terror into every Jewish family faced with its evil work.It was their personal hell, not only because of the physical horrors, but also because of the cruel separation of husband and wife, parent and child.The tearful cries of those frightened children could be heard late into the night, “Daddy… Mommy!”
At Gethsemane, Jesus learned for the first time what His hell would be like, facing evil on behalf of the world.HE MUST DO IT ALONE!Until now, He had been secure in the presence of His Father, and enjoyed the trustworthiness and companionship of the Disciples.In the prayer garden, my Jesus cried out, “Abba… Daddy!”But there would be no answer to take this cup from the Son of God.While our Lord was sweating blood over His plight, the disciples slept.
GospeLines Prayer:O Jesus, thank you for choosing to accept the will of your Father in that lonely garden of the KedronValley.I know you will not forsake me when I go through my own Gethsemanes, but you will surround me with family and Christian friends in my hour of need.Praise God, though others may wish to desert me, you will not leave me to face evil alone. Amen and amen.
Which of these events are most meaningful to you?Why?
(1.) Instituting Communion, (2.) Promise of the Comforter, (3.) Prayer in Gethsemane
≈ Devotional for Thursday, April 9, 2009
“Why Have You Forsaken Me?”
Friday – Matthew 27:32-56;
The vision in the Garden of prayer the night before, now becomes a reality.What Jesus foresaw in Gethsemane he experiences on Golgotha.All the brutal sins of mankind, past and future, pounded the life out of our Lord; and worse, drove Him out of the presence of His heavenly Father.
There was no more cruel way to die than by Roman crucifixion.Nails were driven into the wrists which broke the tendon connected to His shoulder, making breathing almost impossible.The entire weight of His body now rested upon the larger nail in his feet, tearing the flesh a little more with each struggling breath.From those injuries every ounce of His blood poured out in three hours.When there was no more blood in His body, water flowed from the wounds.
Suspended in the darkness between two criminals, straining against the nails in his torn flesh to expand his parched lungs, He finds energy to prevail upon the Father once more: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"In that dreadful moment, judgment caught up with my sin and dealt with it by the only punishment possible... Jesus died for me on that rugged cross, all alone.
GospeLines Prayer:Dear Jesus, I will never know how you were able to look at me and love me enough to die for me, but you did.Saying thank you with my lips is not enough, so help me to say it with my life.I love you so much!Amen and amen.
Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.
2. Luke 23:43
I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.
3. John 19:26-27
Dear woman, here is your son (John). Here is your mother (Mary).
4. Matthew 27:46
Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani…My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
5. John 19:28
6. John 19:30
It is finished.
7. Luke 23:46
Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.
Darkness, earthquake (veil of the Temple is torn)
Burial in tomb
Experience the Bible
1.Are you surprised that Peter would be the one to deny Jesus?Has there ever been a time in your life when you denied Christ?
2.What does the Bible say is the unpardonable sin?Is there any possibility that Judas will be in heaven?Why or why not?
3.(Luke 23:43) After a person dies, when does the soul of a Christian enter into the presence of God?
4.Who do you believe most responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus?The Romans?The Jews?Others?
Devotionals for Friday, April 10, 2009
- Two devotionals were published today - - Be sure to scroll all the way down to read both -
"The Tomb is Sealed"
Saturday – Matthew 27:62-66
The Gospels are far too silent about Saturday, the day after the execution.So, imagine this.You are a follower of that revolutionary they call Jesus of Nazareth.Openly, you professed that you believed his message and even saw Him as the Messiah.You huddle in disbelief and fear that the next voice you hear will be one of the Roman soldiers seeking others who believed His teachings.With your own eyes you saw them take that lifeless body and give it to Joseph of Arimathea for burial.What now?Where do you go from here?Was Jesus really the One or should you seek another?
GospeLines Prayer:Precious Jesus, you have allowed me to live on this side of Calvary and now I know that Sunday, resurrection day is coming.Why then do I live as though it never happened?Why do I hide in fear that the next voice I hear will be that of someone who needs to hear the Good News from me?O, my Redeemer and my Lord, this Easter, let the message of the cross ring unashamedly true from my lips, that others may know what I know.Amen and amen.
Saturday was the day of worship during the early New Testament days.But Resurrection Sunday’s coming, and things will change after that!Eventually, most New Testament Christians began observing worship on Sunday, in commemoration of the resurrection of our Lord.So the Bible has little to say about the events of Saturday.The Romans and Jews were concerned that someone would steal the body of Jesus so they posted a guard at the tomb.After the Sabbath, Mary & others purchased spices to anoint the body of Jesus.
Sealing and guarding the tomb
Mary Magdalene & others purchase spices to anoint Jesus’ body
Experience the Bible
Tomorrow is Easter Sunday!You have read the scripture in Mark 16:1, how some prepared for this day.How will you prepare for it?While it is OK to experience traditional family gatherings, and have treats and games for the children, let your preparation also include something spiritual.
Take a moment and pray this prayer in your own words:
“Heavenly Father, prepare my heart for the activities of tomorrow.As I reflect upon the first Resurrection Sunday, give me a joy of expectation.Allow me to experience Easter as I never have before.In Jesus’ Name I pray, amen.”
"The First Easter Sunday"
My parents died three weeks and a day apart, on December 13th and January 4th.Not unlike millions of others, I like to spend part of Easter Sunday visiting their graves.Each time I do this, it is a time of remembrance and weeping.
Suppose the next time, as I approach the site, instead of seeing manicured lawns covering their resting place, there would be a large empty hole where their bodies once lay.Bereavement would be displaced by bewilderment, shock, fear and anger, and my frantic search to find them would begin.
So it was on that first Easter with the women who found the stone rolled back and the borrowed tomb of Jesus empty.What began as reverence and service to the memory of their Lord, was now a time of exasperation.It wasn’t until they were told the Good News by the angel that their fear subsided and their joy returned.GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST.HE IS NOT HERE, BUT HE HAS RISEN!
GospeLines Prayer:Dear Savior, O Lamb of God, roll back the stones of disbelief in the hearts of your people.Let the resurrection message ring out in the churches of America today so that deaf ears and silent hearts will again rejoice that on Sunday, the shackles of death could no longer hold Your body in that tomb. Amen and amen.
Appearance to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus
Appearance to Simon Peter
Appearance to the disciples (except Thomas)
Later appearance to Simon Peter: “Feed my sheep.”
Experience the Bible
1.A friend at work or school, who comes from another culture, asks you to tell him why Easter is such a big deal to Christians.What is your answer?
2.From Mark 16 we learn that Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene.Why do you think the others did not believe her when she told them about seeing the risen Christ?Did it have anything to do with her reputation?Was it because the others lacked faith?
3.When Jesus appeared to Cleopas and his companion (probably his wife), what was their response? (see Luke 24: 33)Tell of a time when you felt compelled to tell someone about a recent encounter you had with Jesus.
Going Deeper:Read John 21:15-17 in the Amplified Bible: (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john%2021&version=45).Notice the differences in the word “Love” used by Jesus and Peter.You may need to read the passage carefully several times to really get it.Two different Greek words were used, agape (sacrificial love) and phileo (friendship love).What is the significance of the wording of the questions of Jesus and the answers given by Peter?