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.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 109

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Day 109:To be Betrayed

Please read the Bible verses for today:
Matthew 26:14-16

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver.16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over." (Matthew 26:14-16)

What can be said about the most horrible betrayal of all time? Judas, a man who was one of the twelve disciples who walked and lived with Jesus for three years, a man who saw miracle after miracle, a man who listened to the most profound teachings ever spoken, a man who witnessed God's love and compassion, betrayed His master. How is it possible? How can someone be so physically close to God and reject Him? But that is what God calls free will. He reveals Himself to all of us and we decide if we want to surrender our lives to Him or not. Judas decided, after three years of viewing the most loving and Godly man's life, that He would not only reject Jesus as his Messiah, but go a step further and betray Him. He went to them, "...Judas Iscariot-went to the chief priests..." (Matthew 26:14) they didn't go to him. He sought them out with the intent to betray Jesus. 

Judas was paid thirty pieces of silver. I've learned two things about this amount: 1) Thirty pieces of silver is equivalent to 120 denarii. At the time of Jesus a worker and even a Roman soldier received payment of one denarius for a days work. Thirty pieces of silver was a huge some of money. 2) Thirty pieces of silver was what was paid for a slave. Judas was now the slave of the chief priests. 

Pray with me:
Jesus, you know what it is to betrayed by a best friend, a brother. You know what it is to be misunderstood. You know what it is to be rejected by your own. You know the pain and anguish of the heart. Jesus, you know what it feels like. Thank you for knowing. Thank you for living a life on this earth and experiencing all our hurt, pain and suffering. Help me to forgive those who have betrayed me and hurt me. Help me to love as you love. In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 108

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Day 108: Who is Jesus to You?

Please read the Bible verses for today:
Matthew 26:6-13

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

6 "While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper..." (Matthew 26:6) Can we just stop and read that verse again? "While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper..." (Matthew 26:6) Now, we know that lepers did not live in a home and entertain company because leprosy is a highly contagious disease, so why is he 'Simon the Leper?' Well, I looked it up in my commentary and it said that he was once a leper and Jesus healed him. So, his nickname, if you will, is 'Simon the Leper.' (If I was Simon I would have wanted to be known as Simon the healed). All this to say, Jesus is entering the house of a man He knew and that Simon knew Him. Simon personally knew that Jesus was more than a teacher and a prophet. Simon, in my mind, had to know that Jesus was God.

 7 "a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table." (Matthew 26:7) 
This story appears in the Book of Mark also. In Mark's story the woman who anointed Jesus head was Mary, the sister to Martha and Lazarus. This woman, Mary, was also in a position to believe that Jesus was more than a teacher and a prophet. Jesus raised her brother Lazarus from the dead! Mary, in my mind, had to know Jesus was God. In her gratefulness and love, out of the overflow of her heart she anointed Jesus' head.
When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” (Matthew 26:8-9)
The disciples have been with Jesus for three years, listened to Him teach, watched Him heal every disease, saw the love in His eyes for all people, surely they know that He is God. How is it than that they do not see what Mary did as a beautiful thing? How can they think that to pour expensive oil to anoint Jesus would be a waste? I would think it would have been a holy moment. A reverent moment. A moment to be quiet and still. But I know for myself I am stupid like that too. I miss the God moments. The Holy Spirit moments and have to be told to sit still and be quiet. 
10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Matthew 26:10-13) 

Jesus is so wonderful. He doesn't rebuke them and say, 'Guys, when are you going to get it! I AM GOD! What Mary is doing is the right thing! Wake up before it's too late!' No, He gently reminds them- 'the poor you will always have, but as for me, I will be dying soon and no longer here. She is preparing my body for my death.'

Everyone in the room knew Jesus' power. Everyone in the room believed He was God. But only one person understood His mission.

Pray with me:
Jesus, thank you for leaving Heaven and coming to earth to be like one of us. Thank you that you lived among us, healed the sick, raised the dead, pointed us to God the Father. Thank you that you died on the cross for my sin so that I might be reconciled to the Father. Thank you for rising again and making a way for me to be in Heaven with you one day. Thank you. I love you Jesus. In Jesus' Name, Amen.  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 107

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Day 107: He Knew

Please read the Bible verses for today:
Matthew 26:1-5

The Plot Against Jesus

26 "When Jesus had finished saying all these things..." (Matthew 26:1a) 
What things? From Matthew chapter twenty-one until Matthew chapter 23, we read how the teachers of the law and Pharisees were testing Jesus and how Jesus spoke against their hypocrisy. Jesus spoke clearly that the teachers of the law and Pharisees were 'brood of vipers,' 'snakes,' blind guides and condemned to hell.' He was not only trying to tell them that He knows their heart, but for the people to see and hear the truth about their teachers and not follow their teachings any longer. Then from Matthew chapter twenty-four until chapter twenty-five, Jesus spoke to the people on being ready for His return. He has said what He can to prepare their hearts for why He came to this earth and then He says it plainly...

"he said to his disciples, As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” (Matthew 26:1b-2)
I do not know what reaction the people had to hearing Jesus state those words, "...the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified," but I shutter every time I read them. He knew what they were to do to Him and He states it plainly. He is trying to prepare the people in the crowd for what will be happening to their leader. I can never wrap my mind around how Jesus loved the people and tried to challenge the teachers of the law and Pharisees when He knew all along what they were going to do to Him. That is God. God loving us no matter what. 

3 "Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.” (Matthew 26:3-5)

After trying to trap Jesus over and over again and Jesus proving that: a) He cannot be tricked or trapped, b) He has more wisdom and understanding of the Word of God than they did, and c) He could read their minds and hearts and speak directly to it, they were still not convicted to change their ways or convinced that Jesus was indeed their Messiah is completely unbelievable to me. How can one's heart be so hardened that Jesus cannot penetrate it? "When Jesus had finished saying these things..." (Matthew 26:1a) He announces His own death at the hands of the very teachers of the law and Pharisees that have been teaching the people and following Jesus around. Their response? "and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.” (Matthew 26:4-5) It is so completely unreal to me that they are not changed in the presence of God and they think that Jesus doesn't already know what they are about to do. They think they are under His radar with their planning and scheming. He knows His death will be because of them and He knows how He will die, but He knows something they do not know- He will rise again!

Pray with me:
Jesus, thank you for your loving kindness and patience even with your enemies. Thank you for coming to this earth knowing that you came to die on that cross to save me from my sins. Thank you for going to the cross to reconcile me to the you and the Father. Jesus keep my heart open, my eyes open and my ears open to you. Help me never to wander away from you. Keep me close to your heart. I love you, Jesus. In Jesus' Name, Amen.



Monday, June 19, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 106

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Day 106: Are You His Lamb?

Please read the Bible verses for today:
Matthew 25:31-46

The Sheep and the Goats

31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. (Matthew 25:31-33)
Throughout the Scriptures Jesus refers to Himself as the Great Shepherd and those who follow Him are His sheep. Here again we find that He is using sheep to represent us, which I love. I love that Jesus sees me as His lamb and that His heart is like that of a shepherd- to watch, protect, provide, and care for his sheep. 
In this passage we see very clearly that Jesus will separate those that know Him and have accepted Him as their Savior from those that do not. It is very clear that He knows His sheep and He knows who are goats. The scary thing to me is that many people think they have been good enough to win God's acceptance into heaven, but that is not what He requires. God requires a surrendered heart to Him and acceptance of His Son Jesus Christ. The truth is clear and the consequences severe. Be ready.
34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:34-40)
The only reason I have ever given to the poor, or gone into prisons, or helped out at a homeless shelter was because Jesus moved my heart to do so. On my own, before knowing Jesus, I would see the homeless on the streets of New York every day and do nothing for them. They were apart of my scenery, if you will, they were there every day just like I would pass the shops on my way to school. They were fixtures just sitting there. I was afraid of them and would completely ignore them. But when I asked Jesus into my heart, He gave me His heart for the poor, homeless and imprisoned. I became His sheep with my Shepherds heart and touched the lives of the people He cared for. I was not doing 'good deeds' as I helped the hurting stranger, I was being God's hand of love on this earth. I was being obedient to what He asked me to do. 
41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:41-46)
Pray with me:
Jesus, thank you for coming into my heart and making me new. Thank you for opening my eyes to your loving heart of compassion for all people. Help me to listen for your voice to touch even more lives on a daily basis. Thank you that I am your sheep and will be welcomed into heaven one day. Lord, I pray for those that do not know you. I pray that you will touch their heart, their eyes, their minds to know you, to see you, to love you. In Jesus' Name, Amen.