Thursday, June 29, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 114

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Day 113: Jesus' Great Love

Please read the Bible verses for today:
Matthew 26:57-68

Jesus Before the Sanhedrin

57 "Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.
59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.
Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” (Matthew 26:61)
What court of law is this? Let alone a court of law in the temple. "The chief priests and whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death." (Matthew 26:59) "...many false witnesses came forward." Why? What did they have to gain by giving a false witness against Jesus? In the Book of Mark, chapter 14 verse 55, it reads: "55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree." The goal was to put Jesus to death any way they could. They did not care if they found false or true evidence for such a claim, as long as they had just reason to have Him Crucified. But the ridiculous part in all this is that they could not find to false witnesses to agree on anything false so that they could be justified in sentencing Jesus. Than two false witnesses came in and agreed on the story of Jesus saying that He would Himself destroy the temple and in three days rebuild it. This is not what Jesus said. "Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” (John 2:19) First of all Jesus was talking about His body being the temple and secondly, that if they destroyed the temple (Jesus) than He would raise it again in three days, (the resurrection). Yet in Mark:14:59 it says, "59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree." 
62 "Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. (Matthew 26:62-63a)
I am sure in every case up until this point the accused would be yelling and trying to defend himself, but here Jesus remained silent. An ordinary victim would fight to live, to be justified, but this was no ordinary man with an ordinary case. This was Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, who was determined to obey the Father unto death for the salvation of the world. 
The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
64 You have said so,” Jesus replied. But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?”
“He is worthy of death,” they answered. (Matthew 26: 63-65)
The Sanhedrin got what they wanted- Jesus' judgment of death. 
Jesus got what He wanted- a judgment of death.
67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?” (Matthew 26:67-68) In Mark 14:65 it says, " 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him." They blindfolded Him. Why did they blindfold Him? Where they afraid of Him? Why couldn't they spit and beat Him without the blindfold? My guess was they were unsure of who He really was, but logically, if they thought about it- if Jesus was God, blindfold or not He would know who was punching Him. 
This particular verse is sacred to me. You see, I was blindfolded and beaten by my family too. And many months afterward, when I was physically and emotionally stable, I cried out to God. I told Him that I knew He had endured many things for us so that He would understand what it was like to be human and go through many trials, but that He had never been blindfolded and beaten. At that moment the Lord told me to read His final days on this earth. When I came across Mark 14:65, I wept. Jesus has endured all things for us-even a beating blindfolded. He is our Great High Priest.
Pray with me:
Jesus, how much love you have for me that you would stay silent while your accusers brought in false accusations against you. How much you love me that you stood there, in front of mere man, to be judged. How much you love me that you would endure a beating, blindfolded. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for enduring it all for me. Help me to receive your love. Help me to receive your acceptance. Help me to live and bask in your deep love for me. Help me to give your love to all those around me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 113

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Day 113: What Loving Your Enemies Looks Like

Please read the Bible verses for today:
Matthew 26:47-56

Jesus Arrested

47 "While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
50 Jesus replied, Do what you came for, friend.” (Matthew 26: 47-50)
The Book of Luke gives the same account with a little more detail. In the Book of Luke, chapter 22:47-48 reads: "47 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”  
In both accounts Jesus' words to Judas get me at the heart, I wonder what they did to Judas. "Do what you came for friend." (Matthew 26:50) Jesus called Judas His friend because for three years that is exactly what they were. It was only until Judas received money for betraying Jesus that their relationship drastically changed. Did Judas hear those words? Did it wake him from his stupor? In the book of Luke, Jesus asked Judas, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" (Luke 22:48) Again, it feels like a wake-up call for Judas. 'Judas, do you realize a) that you are betraying the Son of Man- Me- Jesus? Do you realize it is me? The one that you have journeyed with for three years, lived with, eaten meals with, seen miracles...it is I, Jesus. and b) Do you realize that you are betraying me with a kiss? A kiss, Judas! really! A kiss that shows friendship, love, and brotherhood. A kiss of betrayal? Couldn't you have just shaken my hand? or pointed at me? Did you have to kiss me to betray me? Me the One that has loved you?' 
Well, if Judas wasn't convicted, I am. I am reminded of James 3:9-12:  "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water." I praise Jesus on Sunday, but during the week I when I am stressful I yell, get angry and say things that I regret. I am full of faith on Sunday, but during the week I get anxious and fearful. It's like a betrayal of sorts. How can I love Him and get so filled with faith and joy on Sunday and than during the week abandon Him when something terrible happens? Am I any better than Judas?
In the book of John the account reads: "Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
Again he asked them, Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
Jesus answered, I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go. This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”
"...they drew back and fell on the ground." (John 18:6) When Jesus said, "I am he." I believe He was saying, "I Am." which is the name God gave to Moses for Himself. I love that they drew back and fell to the ground. That had to confuse them. His words made them all fall to the ground- He didn't touch them. If I had been in that crowd I would have taken off running. 
"Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
52 Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matthew 26:50b-54)
In Luke 22:51, it further reads: "51 But Jesus answered, No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him." Jesus picked up the man's bloody ear, and healed him right in front of Judas the betrayer, and the crowd of people sent from the chief priests that were holding clubs and swords. Jesus created a miracle....a miracle of love. This is the man they were arresting. A man who spoke, "I am he" and they fell to the ground and a man who healed one of His own captives. Surely, someone in that crowd had to have had second thoughts on arresting Jesus. 
55 "In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.”Then all the disciples deserted him and fled." (Matthew 26:55-56) 
Jesus didn't fight or resist or use words to change their minds, He accepted the falsely accused arrest because it was what His Father wanted. 
Pray with me:
Jesus, thank you for loving Judas. Thank you for not yelling at him or turning your back on him for what he did. Thank you for being the perfect role model of loving our enemies. Help me, Jesus, to love my enemies and forgive them for what they have done to me. Heal my deep wounds. Jesus, thank you for showing me what it looks like to be at peace with the Father's will. Help me to surrender my will to your will for my life. Forgive me for holding on and resisting your will. Make me like you. In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 112

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Day 112: God's Will Be Done

Please read the Bible verses for today:
Matthew 26:36-46

Gethsemane

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Matthew 26:36-38)
"In this hour of agony He clung to the companionship of His closest friends, to whom also, as spectators of the glory of the Transfiguration..." (The One Volume Bible Commentary). I never really thought about how Peter, James and John were the three that Jesus pulled out from the disciples and did things with over the three years of His ministry. How these three were very dear to His heart. So many times I have called a friend to pray for me as I am going through tough times or to pray for me as I hear news from my doctor, how very real it is to see Jesus take His three closest friends with Him to pray in His darkest hours. His words are so strong..." My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Matthew 26:38) Jesus knew that He was not only going to be arrested, but beaten, flogged, crucified and take on the sin of the whole earth. Every vile sin that was and will be ever committed He took on His body for the love of us. 
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)
Jesus was both man and God. The man in Jesus did not want this 'cup of suffering,' but being God He was surrendered to the will of the Father to do whatever He asked. What an incredible prayer we all need to pray. To pray that God's will be done in our lives because His will is best. To trust God with our very lives, even to the point of death. 
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:40-41) 
Jesus already told Peter that he would betray Jesus. The temptation to do so is near and Peter needs to prayer to resist it. But Jesus in all of His beauty sees Peter's spirit- his spirit is willing to pray, but his flesh is too weak to stay awake. Jesus is merciful. He would love to have His friends awake, aware of what is happening and pray, but He is forgiving in the midst of His own agony. How I pray that I will be forgiving and full of mercy for all those in my life. 
42 He went away a second time and prayed, My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42) 
The prayer is different. The first prayer was: "If it is possible..." The second and third prayer says, "If it is not possible...may your will be done." Jesus knows it is not possible. He is no longer hoping for this 'cup' to be taken from Him, He is praying for God the Father's will to be done. Jesus' will is aligned with the Father's will. This is the most powerful prayer I have ever heard. Jesus knew, because He is God, all that was going to happen to Him to conform to the Father's will and He said yes. When I pray for God's will to be done in my life, I have no idea what it will entail, but I desire everything the Lord has for me. I blindly pray these words, but Jesus wasn't blind- He knew and still He welcomed the Lord's will for His life. Could I pray the will of the Father if it meant a martyr's death? 
43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” Matthew 26:43-46)
The disciples were completely clueless, as I would have been. With all of Jesus' warnings and trying to prepare them for this particular night, they were not ready. They were sleeping- sleeping in body, but also, sleeping in the spirit. They did not understand the gravity of what was going to happen. I believe Jesus was trying to protect them from the shock of all that was going to happen and the guilt they would feel for betraying Him, but with all of His efforts they did not get it. 
I feel like I have gone through this so many times with the Lord. For years my family was abusive towards me. For years I would hear the Lord say, "A time is coming where they will no longer be in your life." I would completely ignore this terrible thought and do all I could to fit in and be accepted by my family. The abuse continued for fifteen more years. Finally, the day came when my mother told me that I was dead to her and my father. The words were more difficult to hear than I can say. During my mourning, I remembered how the Lord tried to prepare me, but I had refused to listen. He knew. He tried to help me see it coming. But I feared and dreaded it and would not submit my will to His will. I wish I had. I wish I had built more faith and trust in Jesus before I went through this trial. I cried many tears. It has been eleven years since I have seen or heard from my parents, four sisters and fourteen nieces and nephews. 
Pray with me:
Jesus, thank you for being so real. Thank you for taking friends with you as you were going through the worst hours on this earth. Thank you for showing me that it is okay to have friends journey with me in my time of need. Thank you too for showing me how to pray a prayer of surrender. Help me to always desire your will above my own. Help me to trust you. Grow my faith that I may stand strong through trials. Help me to hear your voice and welcome your will for my life no matter how hard it may be. Jesus, I want to hear your voice. I want to have visions and dream dreams of you! I desire your will for my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 111

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Day 111: Jesus Knows Our Sin

Please read the Bible verses for today:
Matthew 26:31-35

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

31 Then Jesus told them, This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
“‘I will strike the shepherd,
    and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” (Matthew 26:31-32)

I personally cannot imagine hearing these words, This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ (Matthew 26:31) Putting myself in the the apostle's shoes, I cannot imagine hearing Jesus say to me that I would betray Him or abandon Him after following Him for three years, listening to His message, and witnessing miracle after miracle. I don't ever want to hear those words for my life today. I know that I may go through persecution for my faith and I hope that I will stay strong. I want to believe that I would not 'scatter,' or betray Him. I believe these words were hard for the apostles to hear, but Jesus says something else, 32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” (Matthew 26:32) After He has risen, which implies He had to have died, Jesus says, I will go ahead of you into Galilee. I see that as Jesus saying, 'Okay guys, tonight is going to be pretty bad- you are all going to betray me. Yes, that's sad, but it will get worse. I will be handed over to the chief priests because of Judas, I will be tried, and crucified, BUT hear me, there is good news to all of this, I will RISE AGAIN and come back and meet you in Galilee!' But as humans all we hear is the doom and gloom. The disciples completely miss verse thirty-two because they are so upset about verse thirty-one . And I think why it is so sad that they missed what Jesus said is because in saying that He will meet them in Galilee He is saying, "It's all going to be okay. Just because you abandon me, doesn't mean I will abandon you. I will still love you after the betrayal and I look forward to meeting up with you in Galilee." How awesome is Jesus! He knows our sin, He knows it before we even commit it, but He knows our hearts too. He knows we will repent, so He looks at the heart and is excited about meeting with us! But the disciples completely miss this and I have to say, I'm just like that too-Watch...
33 "Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
34 Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” (Matthew 26:33-34)
Jesus has to prove to Peter that Peter will betray Him by telling Peter that he will betray Jesus three times before the sun even comes up or the rooster crows. We never want our sin pointed out. We never want our weakness shown, but if Jesus is pointing it out, it's okay because there is forgiveness. We need to sit still and allow Jesus to show us our faults, sin, failures, so we can be healed. We do not need to defend ourselves to Jesus or hide our sin, we need our sin revealed so we can find healing and forgiveness from it. I'm not saying it's easy, I don't like it when I see my own sin, it's horrible actually, but once I see it I have the choice to repent and be set free and that is what I ultimately desire- freedom from sin. 
35" But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same." (Matthew 26:35) 
Pray with me:
Jesus, reveal to me my sin. Reveal the sin in my life that keeps me from you-that keeps me tucked away in shame and guilt. Reveal any generational sin too. Lord, help me to allow my sin to be exposed so that I may repent, be forgiven and set free. Lord, help me to allow you to wash me from my sin that I may live my life to glorify your name. Purify my heart, my mind and my spirit. In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 110

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Day 110: Jesus Loves Us!

Please read the Bible verses for today:
Matthew 26:17-30

The Last Supper

17 "On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
18 He replied, Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover." (Matthew 26:17-19)
In the Book of Mark, Jesus says it alittle differently: Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” (Mark 14:13b-15)
Mark's version made it easier for me to understand how they found a 'certain man'- He was carrying a jar of water. In my commentary it explained too that many people had spare rooms for the purpose of sharing them with those who had come into Jerusalem for the Passover. Once again Jesus clearly shows them that He is God- He knows everyone. He knows their hearts and He knew which person would willingly share his spare room for Jesus and the disciples for the Passover. (It reminds me of the story in Matthew chapter twenty-one where Jesus sends two disciples ahead into Jerusalem to get Him a donkey). 
20 "When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.21 And while they were eating, he said, Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?” (Matthew 26:20-22)
We know, as the reader of the Word of God and believers, that Jesus knew Judas was to betray Him even before He chose Judas to be a disciple. Jesus always knew that Judas was the one to turn Him over to the chief priests and be killed. Jesus always knew. The disciples never knew. Here Jesus begins to prepare them for the reality that they will be facing that very evening. Now, Jesus has told them many times that He will be 'handed over' to the chief priests, but He never told them WHO was going to do the deed. I see two things: 1) Jesus is preparing them for the actual 'hand over' part of the night. He is preparing them for what they will see- Judas, their Judas- their brother, disciples, of three years, leading the chief priests and temple guards straight to Jesus to be arrested. 2) Jesus is preparing their heart for even after He is dead and buried, when they will be sitting around talking about this night. They won't say, "Did you see the shock in Jesus' eyes when He saw that it was Judas who betrayed Him!!!" No. They'll say, "Jesus knew all along that Judas was the one and yet He loved Him and accepted what the Father had for Him to do. Jesus went with the temple guards without a fight. He went to the cross without a defense. He went because He knew all along that this was what He was sent here to do." 
23 Jesus replied, The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him.But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” (Matthew 26:23-24)
My Bible commentary explains: "It was the custom-still practiced by some in the Middle East-to take a piece of bread, or a piece of meat wrapped in bread, and dip it into a bowl of sauce on the table. In that culture, as among Arabs today, to eat with a person was tantamount to saying, "I am your friend and will not hurt you." This fact made Judas's deed all the more despicable." 
25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”
Jesus answered, You have said so.”
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take and eat; this is my body.”
27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives."
My One Volume Bible Commentary says, "This is clear proof that Jesus regarded His death as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the word, and therefore, as altering the relaton of the whole human race to God. As Moses had once made a covenant with God by the blood of victims (animals) sprinkled on the people (Ex.24:8) so now Jesus by His own blood made a new and better covenant."
Pray with me:
Jesus thank you for coming to earth knowing what you had to do to reconcile us to the Father and that you did it for us. Thank you for loving Judas all those years even though he was your enemy. Thank you for preparing the disciples heart for all that they would have to see and endure. Thank you for being so gentle with them and with me. Thank you for always showing me so much love. When I read the Scriptures all I see is how much you loved. Thank you for loving me so much that you died on the cross for my sins and made a way for me to know you. Thank you. In Jesus' Name, Amen.