West End Assembly of God
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Daily Devotional Guide
April 21-26, 2014
Devotions for THE STORY
MONDAY, April 21
Matthew 28:5 – The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
While the guards were so afraid of the angel that they shook and became like dead men (vs. 4), the women heard the angel speak and give them words of direction. Mark tells us that they fled from the tomb trembling and bewildered and “said nothing to anyone because they were afraid” (16:8). Matthew tells us they were “afraid, yet filled with joy” (28:8) and at least one of them (Mary Magdalene) went and told the disciples (16:9). How would you have responded? The resurrection was a mind-boggling, blatantly supernatural reality that would take time to process. Jesus would spend the next 40 days appearing to his disciples and helping them connect the dots between Old Testament prophecies and His fulfillment of them (Luke 24:27). The horrors of the crucifixion would fade under the glory of the resurrection. But before He ascended into Heaven, He needed to firmly fix this reality in their hearts and minds. All of Christianity would rest on the foundation of the resurrection (I Cor. 15:17). The message to those women is the message to us today: “Go quickly and tell.” We must tell everyone that the resurrection proves that Jesus Christ has power to rescue us from sin and the death it brings, and it has power to reconnect us to God, our source of divine life.
TUESDAY, April 22
Acts 1:3 – After his suffering, He presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
For 40 days after the resurrection Jesus appeared in bodily form to his followers—more than 500 at the same time on one occasion (I Cor. 15:6). He did not appear to Pilate and Herod. He did not appear to those who had shouted, “Crucify Him.” Jesus revealed himself only to those who had put their faith in Him. Faith is the crucial ingredient that makes salvation possible (Acts 16:1: Rom 10:9). Jesus is the bridge between everything we know and understand in this life and the whole unseen, supernatural realm into which we are moving at the end of this life. Without Him, we will stand guilty before a righteous God and condemned to eternal death (Rom. 6:23); but that is not God’s will for us. His plan for mankind, from the days of Eden, was for us to enjoy His presence and all that He has created for us in a sinless world. When Jesus took our penalty for sin through his substitutionary death on the cross, it became possible for us to reunite with the Father. His arms are open wide. He waits for the big reunion. But He has given us the power of choice. We can choose to walk away from Him, or we can choose to run into His open arms. Jesus makes that possible. What do you believe? How have you responded? Don’t delay (II Cor. 6:2). Run into the Father’s arms. Pray this prayer: “God, I believe you have sent your Son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross and take the penalty for my sins. I choose to accept Jesus as my personal Savior, and I invite your Holy Spirit to cleanse me from all sin. Bring spiritual transformation to every part of my life and teach me how to glorify you in all I do and say. Amen” (I John 1:9). If you prayed this prayer with a sincere heart, you can be sure that your name has been written in Heaven’s “book of life” (Rev. 20:11-15). Give thanks to God for his gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
WEDNESDAY, April 23
John 20:27 – Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas had missed the visitation of the risen Christ with the other disciples. When he heard them tell about how Jesus had suddenly appeared among them, he winced with doubt. “Show me the man’s scars, let me touch the wounds, then maybe I will believe,” he responded. Remarkably, Jesus repeated his visit—same house, same doors locked tight. Then he specifically turned to Thomas with open hands. This time Thomas responded with profound truth: “My Lord and my God!” The lesson for us is found in verse 29. It is as if Jesus looks up from our narrative and directly into our eyes: “Blessed are (you) who have not seen and yet have believed.” In a world that revolves around visible proof and scientific fact, we worship a man who lived over 2000 years ago. We believe that He was the Son of God and was raised from the dead! Incredible, isn’t it? The Holy Spirit has convinced us even though we have not touched Christ’s wounds, looked into his eyes or heard his voice. Yet the truth of Jesus has been “revealed unto us by his Spirit” (I Cor. 2:10). And that truth mixed with Holy Spirit revelation is powerful enough to change us forever from the inside out. That powerful blessing remains for anyone who chooses to believe.
THURSDAY, April 24
John 21: 15 – When they had finished eating Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
After laboring all night, with no fish to show for it, the disciples heard Jesus calling from the shore. He told them to throw their nets on the right side; and as they did, the nets automatically filled—a miracle. Jesus welcomed the weary fishermen to a warm fire and a good meal; but He served more than a hot breakfast that morning, He mended a broken heart. Peter carried deep guilt over his failures during Christ’s trial and crucifixion. His denial haunted him. So Jesus, whose mission is to bring us into reconciliation and wholeness, met Peter on this seashore, a most comfortable setting for a most difficult conversation. Do you love me more than these? Fishing was Peter’s whole life. He had left it once before to follow Jesus; but the crucifixion made everyone rethink their beliefs. Do you love me more than these? Peter didn’t feel capable anymore. Once he had felt strong and brave, but now he knew the truth of his inadequacies. Do you love me? Take care of my sheep. Follow me. Jesus reinstated the call in front of the others; but more than that, He cauterized Peter’s bleeding wounds. Usually we don’t understand the full measure of grace until we have failed miserably. Once we have experienced first-hand Christ’s grace-filled healing and restoration, we are able to go forward in ministry into new dimensions of effectiveness. How have you failed in your service to Christ? Jesus has grace for you. He calls to you: Do you love me more than these? Feed my sheep.
FRIDAY, April 25
Luke 24:27 – And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
The two men on the walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus were filled with information, but not understanding. Jesus drew near and began to explain. He connected the dots between all the Old Testament prophecies and the awful things they had just witnessed. It all began to make sense to them as Jesus unfolded God’s plan of the ages. Not until He “took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them” (vs. 30) were their eyes opened to recognize Him. Life brings us pain and sometimes it is difficult to sort through all the broken pieces and make sense of it all. Jesus sits with us, helps us connect life with faith, and gives us revelation that we would not be able to find on our own. We have a cathartic moment and realize that Jesus was with us. Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us? That’s how we feel when Jesus gives us answers to the deep questions of our hearts. Do you have those kinds of questions? Are you wrestling with things that are beyond your ability to understand? Invite Jesus into the conversation. Start listening to what He has to say. He will open the eyes of your understanding, and you will begin to know the truth.
SATURDAY, April 26
Luke 24:45-48 – Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
Those of us who follow Christ today are witnesses to his ongoing work in the world. We are witnesses to his transformational power. We have experienced freedom from sin’s debilitating grip. We have seen modern-day miracles. We have aligned our hearts with God’s Word that tells us “nothing is impossible with God.” We are committed to sharing the good news of forgiveness of sins to all nations, starting right here at home. Every day the Holy Spirit is opening our minds so that we can understand the Scriptures and discover how they apply to every life challenge. We stand alongside the Apostles to declare that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, and people everywhere can be reconciled to God through Christ (II Cor. 5:18). In this holy Easter season, give thanks to God for all He has done for you. Share your story of faith with someone who does not know Jesus.