Final Week

April 14, 2019

Final Week

Day 1: Whether you go to church a lot or not, sometimes we can miss, overlook, who Jesus is. Take a few minutes and slowly read Colossians 1:15-20. Do you see the power and authority that Jesus has? Jesus was there before anything was formed and has the most power of anyone in all creation, yet what did He do with it? He humbled Himself more than any other. The greatest king of all the universe bent low to serve His creation. That is who He is. The greatest power in the universe shows the greatest humility-- a Heart to serve. Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). The Heart of our Father, the Heart of our King, the most powerful of all the universe, is to bend low and serve. What power do you have? You do not have the power to create a rainstorm or rule those in authority, but we all have power because we all can influence people. So, what do you do with your power? How do you bend lower to serve others in more humble ways? Who are the humble in your life? Meditate on the one who is the most powerful in the universe who was with the Father from the beginning of time.  

 

Day 2: Jesus is the King who washes dirt. Yes, He washed dirt off the toes of the disciples, but on a much greater scale He washes the dirt off our souls. Notice the extremes in Peter’s reaction to Jesus washing His feet. Read John 13:6-10. At first Peter doesn’t want Jesus to wash His feet at all, then He wants Jesus to give Him an entire bath, even though Jesus said Peter was already clean! Peter was confused. Some of us may feel the same. We feel too unworthy or guilty, or perhaps because we are too proud to even admit that we have a need or that selfishness does reside in us. If you haven’t asked forgiveness for the sin in your actions and in your attitudes, imagine Jesus standing before you right now. Allow Him to wash from your Heart all your sin. Accept His cleansing and that you are clean. Unless we accept and allow His washing, we have no part with Him. Others of you may need to Hear something else. How often do we refuse to accept the forgiveness Jesus offers us? Sometimes we as believers may come begging to Him for forgiveness that He has already given. If He has forgiven you, are you still living as unforgiven?   

 

Day 3: How was Jesus able to do these extreme acts of humility? We get a clue in Philippians 2. Read Philippians 2:5-11. Notice that He, already being God, did not have anything to attain; rather, He laid down His life for us. Jesus was secure in His position as God yet was able to lay down His life. We have been given the life of Jesus, His righteousness, as a gift. Our standing and status before God is secure because it has been achieved by Christ’s work. The more we are sure of our standing before God because of Christ’s work, the more able we are to lay down our lives and serve because we have no need to attain good standing with God. Are there areas in our lives where we are feeling the need to be heard, to be known, to make a point, or to be noticed? These may be symptoms that we are not resting in our identity but feel the need to defend ourselves. If we have accepted Christ’s gift, we are taken care of; now we can take care of others. Remind yourself of the security of your position in Christ by reciting or looking up verses that describe who you are in Christ and what has been given to you in Christ.  

 

Day 4: When you look at a king, there are normally certain characteristics that help you identify Him as a king. He is dressed well, has many people surrounding Him (including some guards), uses His power daily, and lives in luxury. Contrast that with what Jesus describes as identifying characteristics of His kingdom: loving and serving. Read Luke 22:24-30 and John 13:34. Reflect on the characteristics of the world’s kingdoms compared to the characteristics of Jesus and His kingdom. What would someone looking at your life from the outside see? What would your children, parents, spouse, boss, those who report to you say? When are you the one to be served or the one who serves?  

 

Day 5: The greatest King in the world cleanses me personally and secures me as His very own child. As His child, He tells me to love others (His other children). As I become like Him in loving and serving, where do I start?  Start with the real needs of the very people who are before you now. In Jesus’s time, washing feet was a basic need, a routine and mundane task. Some may have felt it was beneath them, not their job, or simply didn’t want to do. Sometimes when we want to be like Jesus, we think of grand tasks, big projects, great ministries, things we do once a month with people from our church. That is one place to serve. But what about the other places and people we are with? Jesus served the disciples in an immediate, ordinary need. When looking to love and serve, keep it simple and real. Who are the people you can serve today? Ask God to show you needs you can meet today, and then keep your eyes and ears open. He will give you opportunities.  

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April 7, 2019

Final Week

A Deliberately Reckless Response

Day 1:  Are you observing Lent- the 40 days preceding Easter? Traditionally, Lent provides a time for preparation and focus, reminiscent of Jesus' time in the wilderness before he started his public ministry (See Mark 1:12-13, Matthew 4:1-11, and Luke 4:1-13). Jesus withdrew to the wilderness to set aside the distractions of the worldly life and focus on God, and God's will, for him. As we draw nearer to Jesus’ last days, what steps can you take to refocus your eyes on God’s will and desires for you? These weeks are a time of readying ourselves to experience the death of Jesus and the sacrifice He made for us. How can we prepare to receive this afresh, and not miss or pass through another Easter season? 

 

Day 2: This week Cory taught on a genuine encounter with love. Read Matthew 26:6-13. The woman enters the home of Simon the Leper to anoint Jesus with expensive oil. She receives much criticism from the disciples for her extravagance. However, Jesus recognizes the woman’s actions as that of love, worship and sacrifice. Having felt a deep love and acceptance of Jesus, she offers a response. How can we come to a place of gratitude and worship Jesus with similar passion? How about others in your life? Have you sacrificed for those you love (spouse, child or loved one)? What might be a loving sacrifice you can offer today? How about during the next worship service you attend?  

 

Day 3: Matthew 26:8, “When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. Why this waste?” Perhaps you identify more with the disciples in this story.  They willingly express loving gratitude to Jesus in calculated ways that are purposeful and intentional. Some of us may want to show our love to Jesus only in ways that are controlled, make sense, fit into a plan, and are not too costly. Where are you on the scale of spontaneous love to controlled love? To express any love, we must first open our lives to Jesus and receive this type of love from Him. How has Jesus shown spontaneous, extravagant love to you? Consistent, steady, controlled love? Spend some time reflecting on how you are loved. Just rest in that for a while.  

 

Day 4: The woman in the story (Matthew 26:6-13) provides an example of reckless abandon in her worship. Several ago, at a Casting Crowns concert, my husband and I observed a man attending alone, but totally engaged in the show, singing and dancing. You’ve heard the phrase “dance like no one is watching.” This guy was! He was truly in the moment. He was fully open to worship and spontaneously showing his joy. My husband said, “We should be that guy.” We often still say, “Be that guy…” completely and utterly able to exhibit praise and love without regard for those who misunderstand or misinterpret our actions. Based on your relationship with Jesus, whatever that might currently be, what would it look like to express your love for Him? Like the woman pouring out oil on Jesus or the guy at the concert, what would an unashamed act of love toward Jesus look like for you? 

 

Day 5: As we near Easter weekend, spend some time reflecting on the depth of God’s love toward you (the price He paid; the suffering He endured; the fullness of God’s love on display toward you). Did you do it or just keep reading? Seriously, pause and collect your thoughts on his final moments of his death. Revisit the last days of Jesus life leading up to his trial, crucifixion and sacrifice. Over the coming weeks, consider reading Matthew 26 and the rest of the book. What is your response to Him? Does love for Him stir up inside you? If so, how can you express it to Him?  

 

Dear Lord: Please give me the receptive heart to hear your word in me. Let your light shine through me in my daily life. We know the great sacrifice you laid out for us when you sent your son to suffer on the cross. May we live each day to your glory - and to honor that sacrifice. With your love we offer our love, both to you and to others, always. Amen. 

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March 31, 2019

Final Week

NOT THAT KIND OF KING

Day 1: Read Matthew 21:1-9. At the beginning of Jesus’ final week, Jesus rode into Jerusalem being hailed as King. The Jewish people had long awaited the Messiah, the savior and liberator, who would rescue the Jews. These people knew and believed the promises of God as revealed through the scriptures, and they were excited to finally see God do an amazing thing in their midst. And yet, this crowd would soon abandon Jesus to death on a Roman cross. What happened? Why were they so fickle? This crowd wanted Jesus to be their king. They wanted Him to be the kind of king they understood, namely, a political and military king who would wage war against the Romans. Jesus disappointed them. He failed to meet their expectations. Jesus had indeed come to be their King, but not in the way they wanted. God had a different plan. Is it possible that like the crowd that day, we could find ourselves disappointed in Jesus because He fails to meet our expectations? Is it possible that we want Jesus to be our King, but only on our terms? As long as God blesses us, provides for us, and gives us health, it is easy to serve Him, but what happens when things don’t go the way we think they should? Recall the message from Sunday. What did Jesus come to do when he rode into Jerusalem on the donkey?   

 

Day 2: Read Zechariah 9:9-13. This is what the crowd in Jerusalem was excited about. After being conquered for centuries by Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans, they just wanted peace and freedom. They wanted to prosper, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, they missed what Jesus had really come to do. Jesus was coming to break the power of sin and death. He came to offer grace, forgiveness, and true freedom. He came to demonstrate that His Kingdom exists not through the power to kill or destroy, but through the power of sacrificial love. Take time to worship King Jesus now. Acknowledge and confess that just like the crowd, our thoughts and desires often fall far short of God’s plan for His Kingdom. 

 

Day 3: Read Mark 1:14-15. The Kingdom of God is here. Jesus’ message was that the rule of Messiah on earth that had been promised in the Old Testament was here, and that the Messiah had come. Jesus lived and taught as if He was and will be in charge. He taught with authority and lived as if this world was His to speak into. Jesus came into Jerusalem as the King of the Kingdom of God and the King over all of creation. It was for this reason that He was executed. By claiming to be King, Jesus was not just a threat to the religious leaders, but to Caesar himself. (John 19:14-16) So what does this mean for us? Are we citizens of God’s Kingdom? What does it look like for us today to live under the reign of King Jesus? Take out a piece of paper and write down some ideas of what this looks like in your life. Is there something that you need to submit to King Jesus’ rule and authority, e.g., finances, relationships, habits, etc. Perhaps, it simply means finding practical ways to live your life as if you are not the one on the throne today.  

 

Day 4: Read Luke 19:37-44. As the crowds cheered, Jesus wept. He wept because the people of Jerusalem were missing out on what would truly bring them peace. He wept because they did not recognize the time of God’s coming to them. What a moment. The crowd cheers to make Jesus King, and He mourns over their spiritual blindness. The Pharisees tell Jesus, “rebuke your disciples.” Essentially saying, “how dare they call you King.” Where do you see yourself in this story? What would your response have been if you were there that day? Take a few minutes putting yourself in the story knowing that the rest of the story had not yet unfolded.   

 

Day 5:  Read Philippians 2:5-11.  Jesus did not come as a conquering King. Instead he came as a humble servant. He served God the Father and us even to the point of death. Let that sink in. The servant King died for us, and now He is seated on His rightful throne. As a result, every knee will bow and confess that Jesus is Messiah and King. Revelation 5:13 says, “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’” This is what Jesus’ Kingship ultimately looks like. Therefore, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” We live our lives in humility and service because that’s what King Jesus did. As you interact with people today keep Philippians 2 in your mind and heart. How will serving like Jesus shape your words and actions to the people around you today? 

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