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Holy Week Devotions | April 16

Posted by on Apr 16, 2017 in Holy Week Devotionals | 0 comments

SUNDAY, APRIL 16, 2017

Scott Jolley

 

From Sorrow to Hope  |  John 20: 1-18

 

It was early on the first day of the week following the crucifixion of Jesus. Mary Magdalene went to the tomb of Jesus. Remember, it was the one with the large disk shaped stone so heavy it would have taken several men to move it away. What Mary discovered brought tears and despair. Not only had Jesus died, now his body was gone and in her heart she had lost him again. It is significant that Mary Magdalene was the first person to whom Jesus revealed Himself after his resurrection. It was not that she was an important person or a woman of influence, rather she was a person with a dark past. Jesus met her and rescued her from a horrible life filled with sin. The fact the Lord revealed Himself first to Mary Magdalene shines a ray of hope for every person struggling with sin and guilt. If the Savior rescued this woman from a life of sin and chose her to be the first witness of  his resurrection, then He can save you and me from our sin and use us to serve Him! These verses teach us that…

Sorrows are turned to hope when we seek the risen Savior.

Following  her discovery, she ran to Peter and John and excitedly reported “They have taken him away and we do not know where they have laid him.” Peter and John immediately ran to the tomb. Peter then entered and found only the grave clothes without Jesus’ body. Then John entered, saw and believed that Jesus was risen. They both departed, neither understanding from the Scriptures that Jesus must rise from the dead.

Meanwhile, Mary Magdalene had come back to the tomb weeping. She wanted to find Jesus, although at this point she was just trying to find his corpse. In her thinking, someone had added insult to injury by robbing the grave. She stooped and looked into the tomb, where she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet of where Jesus’ body had been lying. They asked, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Jesus then asked Mary “Whom do you seek?” The question was not for information. Rather, they wanted Mary (and us) to know that seeking the risen Savior will turn our sorrows into hope.

Whatever your sorrows or trials are today, you can have hope because Jesus won the victory over death. He has risen and He asks you the same questions that He asked Mary: “Why are you weeping?” “Whom are you seeking?” If through your tears, you will seek the risen Savior honestly, diligently, personally, and obediently, He will turn your sorrows into hope.

Holy Week Devotions | April 15

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SATURDAY, APRIL 15, 2017

Neal Alexander

 

The Last Days of Jesus  |  John 18:1–19:42

 

In these two chapters, we find an outline of the happenings of Jesus’ last days on earth. Beginning with the betrayal of Jesus through Hisburial, which fulfills the scriptures. Verse 4:

“Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want”?

We all have read the scriptures at Easter, but in reading this passage in preparation for this devotion, I’m seeing it in a different light.
Jesus is aware of all that is to come and carries it out as His Father planned. Judas betrays Jesus thus starting things into action by Jesus being taken from the garden.  Then Peter attacks one of the high priests’ slaves (Malchus) by cutting his right ear off. Jesus tells Peter in 18:11 “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

On to a stop with Annas. Peter was not allowed to go into the priests’ courtyard, thus denying knowing Jesus three times, as the rooster crowed just as Jesus had said. Next, we see the involvement with
Pilate, when he asked in verse 33, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus said in verse 36, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” Pilate offers up Barabbas, a hard criminal, or Jesus. The people wanted Barabbas, and yelled, “Crucify! Crucify Jesus.”

Pilate had a sign made to be placed at the top of Jesus’ cross stating “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS’ (John 19:19)

Following Pilates’ decision, Jesus was flogged and mocked. Even in fear, Pilate delivers the sentence of death. As this scene unfolds, Jesus can be seen carrying His own cross to Golgotha for His crucifixion. They placed a crown of thorns on His head, and cast lots for His clothes, as in verse 24: “This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said, ‘They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.’”

While dying on the cross, Jesus made provisions for his mother. He was always thinking of other people – sick, lame, sinners, and others, so it’s only natural that He made sure His mother was getting care when He was no longer with her.

Jesus completed His work on the cross and announced “It is Finished”, verse 30. As the death of the three on the cross neared, it was customary to break the legs to hasten death. In Jesus’ case, they did not break His legs, but one of the soldiers pierced Jesus side with a spear, where blood and water came out. This too fulfills scripture, “Not one of His bones will be broken” v. 36(b).

After this, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple, asked Pilate for Jesus’ body, and Pilate granted his wish. Assisted by Nicodemus, His body was prepared for burial with myrrh and aloes, wrapped in strips of linen with aromatic spices in accordance with burial customs of the Jews, then placed in a new tomb on the Jewish Day of Preparation.

 

Note: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus risked their reputations to provide for Jesus’ burial. Are you a secret believer? Do you hide your faith from your friends and fellow workers? This is an appropriate time to step out of hiding and let others know whom you follow.

Holy Week Devotions | April 14

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FRIDAY, APRIL 14, 2017

Rob Brown

 

Good Friday  |  Hebrews 10:16-25

 

Wow! What a powerful passage of scripture that describes an essential aspect of our faith: that we can go before our Father in worship and prayer and boldly enter Heaven because of the blood that Christ shed on our behalf.  I encourage you to carefully read and meditate on this passage today as we celebrate Good Friday.

What is so “good” about Good Friday? Shouldn’t it be a dark day, or referred to as Bad Friday or Black Friday? After all, on this day we commemorate that Jesus was brutally beaten and then put to death in a most horrific way.  How can we possibly find any “good” in that? I will offer several of my thoughts on why we should not only commemorate, but actually celebrate Good Friday.

First, Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. It was the purest of selfless acts that I can possibly imagine. And the “good” news is that He did it all for us! The suffering and death of Jesus, as terrible as it was, culminated God’s ultimate plan of salvation for His people. In your meditation focus on why Jesus “willingly” submitted to God’s plan for us.

Second, without the terrible events of Good Friday, we would not be able to receive the joy of Easter. The cross is where “righteousness and peace” will “kiss each other” (Psalms 85:10). In other words, the cross is where God’s righteousness coincided with his mercy. What a powerful image this passage describes. We receive divine forgiveness, mercy and peace because Jesus willingly accepted our punishment, which was the result of God’s righteousness against sin. Jesus endured the cross on Good Friday, knowing it would lead to His resurrection, our salvation, and the beginning of God’s reign of righteousness and peace.

This day is “good” because God jumped into the chaos of our lives to take on our brokenness and to transform us. So, on this Good Friday let your focus not be limited to “Jesus died on the cross, and this will give me eternal life.”  Rather, celebrate this day with the thought that “Jesus died on the cross for me, and my life has been transformed, right here and right now.” We are enabled to enter God’s presence now; to encourage others now; and live a life of love and good works now.

Good Friday is indeed a “good” day to celebrate in anticipation of the joy of Easter!

Holy Week Devotions | April 13

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THURSDAY, APRIL 13, 2017

Ronnie White

 

To Remember  |  1 Corinthians 11:23-26

 

As you reach the end of this paragraph plan to stop reading for a
moment.  While you pause from reading, reflect on the specific things you can remember about today.  For example how well did you sleep or rest during the night?  Did you dream about anything?  What did you do for the first few hours of the morning?  What is the most memorable encounter with someone or the most important thing that happened to you today?  What is the most meaningful thing you have accomplished today? This week? This month?  This year?  In your lifetime?  Pause for a few moments and remember some of the more important events in your life.

You are possibly amazed at how powerful your mind is to recall things that happened, often long ago.  In most cases our memories are still there, intact and ready for almost instant recall.

So as we read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 and then reflect on what we have read, we see a call to remembrance (or to remember).  Each time during the Lord’s Supper, when we partake of the bread and the juice, symbolizing our Savior’s body and blood, we are asked to do it in “remembrance of our Lord Jesus.”   This will lead us to remember and then to proclaim that Christ died for us, so that we might live.

We should remember this.  Never forget it.  It is the most important thing that has happened to us.

Holy Week Devotions | April 12

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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 12, 2017

Travis Sinclair

 

Fulfilling Your Vows (a, e, I, Owe, You, and Why?)  |  Psalm 116: 1-2, 12-19

 

In my 13 years of marriage, I have learned a lot with one important fact not to be missed. If my wife says something twice, I had better listen. The very effort of saying something twice means either I was not listening the first time (I believe they call it selective hearing) or it was important enough to restate. Either way, I definitely do not want her to have to say it a third time.

In very similar fashion the Psalmist twice made the statement “I will fulfill my vows to the Lord…” Therefore, as I began writing this devotion this important fact was not missed.

Be it a vow to the Lord, wedding vows, or a vow of friendship, most of us have found relationships in our lives so important that we take a vow. With a vow, one must ask very simple, but very important questions. Why would I vow to do something and how am I going to fulfill this vow?

For the Psalmist the “why” is simply complicated – Love. Through the troubles and trials, the ups and downs, and the complications, the Psalmist felt the simple, yet powerful, love of God. Often times our closest relationships, including with our spouse, comes from feeling their love and presence during trials and tribulations in our lives. So many times in our life we are struggling through rough times, but our vow to the Lord is because He first loved us. He turns his ear to hear our voices, our cries for mercy, and he loves.

In regards to “how” you fulfill your vow to the Lord may be as unique and individual as the person making the vow. However, the Psalmist provides a good overall approach through servanthood. We are all given gifts and talents. In order to fulfill our vow we should use these gifts to serve the Lord.

We should also give consideration to the “where” we should fulfill our vow. The Psalmist gives us clear guidance stating, “… in the presences of all his people.” And even further clarifies when stating it a second time by adding, “… in the courts of the house of the Lord, in your midst, Jerusalem.” This simply means to fulfill your vow before the Lord everywhere. And everywhere means everywhere:  at church, at home, at work, at school, in your car, at the store, hiking in the mountains, sitting at the beach, at your relative’s house (I know that one may be a stretch), everywhere.

Holy Week Devotions | April 11

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TUESDAY, APRIL 11, 2017

Jerry Cochrane

 

The Last Supper  |  Matthew 26:14-30

 

The Lord’s Supper, as recorded in Matthew, was the prelude to the three day period that had more impact on mankind than anything else in human history.

Hundreds of years earlier the prophet Isaiah had foretold that a messiah would come to save the lost sheep of Israel.

The twelve gathered around the table that night were aware of
Isaiah’s prophecy for the expected Messiah.  Was this person named Jesus the one?  As they supped they were probably puzzled about how this man would lead them. Would it be an overthrow of the
oppressive Roman government? The reestablishment of David’s kingdom?

They probably couldn’t understand what Jesus meant when he took the bread, broke it and said, “Take, eat, this is my body.” He followed this by taking the cup and saying, “Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

His cruel execution the next day seemed to dispel any hopes of him being the expected messiah.  But three days later came the shocking news that he had risen from the dead and left the tomb.

Death was forever defeated.  The power of sin was overcome.

We should be humbled by the thought that he was the sacrificial lamb of God that died because of our sins.  The Romans carried out the death sentence, but it was the sins of the world, including our sins, that he had to carry to the cross.

Because he loved us so much, he took the punishment we deserve that we might live with him in eternity.

Holy Week Devotions | April 10

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MONDAY, APRIL 10, 2017

Chris Rhyne

 

Intentional Humility  |  Philippians 2:5-11

 

If we’re honest, we all have personal preferences…and they often differ from the preferences of the person sitting next to us.  It happens at home, at work, and yes…even at church.

Paul addresses Christians in Philippi who are struggling with petty disagreements and selfishness.  We often see the same struggles in our local churches today.  Paul is writing to encourage them and to point them to a better approach to interpersonal relationships.

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.  And being found in human form, He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on the cross.  Therefore God also highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, And every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Phil. 2:5-11 (NRSV)

Paul is saying “be like Christ in humility.”  Christ humbled himself and fulfilled His Father’s purpose for His life.  He took on the lifestyle and behavior of a servant.  Jesus willingly and intentionally put His own rights aside, becoming a human, serving our needs.  He endured the most painful and the most shameful form of death, just to serve our needs.

The result?  Jesus is in the highest place, worthy of worship, worthy of the name “Lord.”  Because He was humble, He is now exalted (verses 9-11).

So often, Christianity works on principles opposite to the world around us: to be blessed and be a blessing to others; to receive love and to give love; to lead and to be a servant; and to be honored and to be humble.  We must be intentional about giving love, being servants, and being humble, if we are going to make a positive impact on the community around us.

If we are to fulfill God’s purposes for our lives (as individuals and as a church), we will be like Jesus, and humble ourselves before God…saying “Not my will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42).

Heavenly Father, thank you for your presence in our lives.  Thank you for always being there.  Help us to be more aware of your presence, as you lead our church to reach and engage the community around us for you.  Lord, give us open minds to follow your guidance as the world around us changes so rapidly.  Help us, Lord, as we humble ourselves, and put You and others first.  We love you, and thank you for giving us this example in Philippians to imitate.  In Jesus name, we pray.  Amen.

Holy Week Devotions | April 9

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SUNDAY, APRIL 9, 2017

Sharon Starr

 

God’s Faithfulness  |  Psalm 31:9-16

Every year, we contemplate and celebrate Easter. Our victory is realized when Jesus dies for our sins and is resurrected. But, another victory that we can realize this Easter is the fact that God is faithful to us in all of our circumstances; even when we feel abandoned. Psalm 31:9-16 is a declaration of this faithfulness.

Reading the Easter story from the Gospels, you will notice that Jesus prayed from the Psalms as he died on the cross. Reading the Psalms, you will notice that these scriptures tell what it means to be a human being before God. This was the experience of Jesus during his
ministry.

The Psalms declare God’s faithfulness to us even when we feel He is absent. Jesus experienced this faithfulness by continuing to trust God even when he felt abandoned. Like David in this scripture, during his crucifixion, Jesus was anguished, exhausted and weary.

Have you ever felt lost or abandoned by your friends or even
rejected by those closest to you, like David in this passage? Jesus had these same feelings as he died on the cross. He was in distress, he felt the scorn of his adversaries, he felt he was a horror to his neighbors and an object of dread to his acquaintances. He experienced the plot to take his life.

But as in this scripture, he declared that his trust was in God and that his times were in God’s hands. He knew that God would deliver him from his enemies and persecutors and that God would save him in His steadfast love.

 

Each of us have circumstances that cause us to question God’s faithfulness. Some relate to a terminal diagnosis but some relate to just day-to-day frustrations. Our enemies and persecutors may not be people, but may be our feelings about and reactions to our experiences and circumstances. We experience the head vs the heart syndrome. Our minds may tell us that we are alone in our suffering, that our circumstances are dire and that our futures are uncertain. Do we believe what our mind tells us or do we believe what our heart tells us – which is that we have a God and that He is with us in all circumstances? We can pray as David prayed, “My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.”

Let this be our prayer during this Easter season.