July 7 – “He is Willing to Help”

Day 188 – Read Luke 5:12-16

Luke 5:13 – Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him. 

Leprosy was considered as judgment upon sin, and carried with it as much emotional and mental harm as physical. The individual was excluded from any involvement in society, including worship, and had to go about declaring their uncleanness any time they were near others. Because of the stigma of their disease, lepers were outcasts and unwanted.

There were varying stages of leprosy, and Luke tells us that this man was “full of leprosy.” There was no hiding it. Everything about him cried out “unclean.” He was hopeless and helpless, until Jesus came to town.

Luke says that he fell on his face before Jesus and begged for healing. Matthew tells us that he worshipped Him (8:2). His faith in Jesus’ ability to heal seems to be clear: “You can make me clean” (5:12). But, he is not sure of His willingness to do so. He had probably been rejected, spit upon, cast out, and despised so often that he lacked the ability to believe that anyone would want to help him. “Lord, if you are willing…” Then Jesus did what no other would do, He put out His hand and touched him, “I am willing.”

How many of us are like that leper? We don’t question God’s ability, but we’re not sure of His willingness to help. Don’t hesitate to come to Jesus with your need today. His hand is reaching out to you with love, acceptance, and forgiveness. “I am willing”, He says. Receive His touch today.

July 6 – “Don’t Give Up”

Day 187 – Read Luke 5:1-11

Luke 5:5 –But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” 

How often does it seem as if we have labored in vain? We have toiled all night and caught nothing. We have worked for many hours, days, months, or maybe even years, without seeing the fruit of our labor.

The fishermen were tired after a long night of fishing, and were ready to head for home. Their nets were cleaned, their gear was stored, and the last thing on their mind was loading it all up and going out for another try. This was even more unlikely since fishing was done at night, not in the heat of day. But the words of Jesus changed everything.

Jesus didn’t tell Peter to go out and give it another try. He spoke with confidence and authority when He said, “let down your nets for a catch.” There was no doubt or uncertainty in His voice. He was telling Peter, “If you will do as I say you will not be disappointed.” And even though they had failed the night before, Peter responded in faith and obedience to Jesus: “Nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”

Proverbs 3:5 tells us to trust in the Lord and not lean on our own understanding. 1 Cor. 15:58 says that our labor is not in vain in the Lord. And Galatians 6:9 encourages us not to give up because the time of reaping will come. It may not make any sense to us, but if God has spoken, we must obey. Keep doing what God has said and you will not be disappointed.

July 5 – “The Age of Jubilee”

Day 186 – Read Luke 4:14-44

Luke 4:18-19 – “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

How often do we miss a special visitation from our Lord because it is not wrapped in the type of package we expected? On the day of this event the people of Nazareth had the opportunity to be the first to receive the long awaited Messiah. Instead, they were filled with rage, tried to throw Him off a cliff, and ran Him out of town (v. 28-29). Mark 6:6 tells us it was because of their unbelief that they did this.

When Jesus stood before them and opened the book to read Isaiah, He was reading a familiar passage that clearly referred to the Messiah. But His personal application of the scripture is what caused such a strong reaction. “The Spirit is upon Me…He has anointed Me…He has sent Me…” But how can that be? “Is this not Joseph’s son?” (v. 22).

Obviously, they were not present when Jesus was baptized and the Holy Spirit came upon Him like a dove to anoint Him for ministry. Now, after a time of temptation in the wilderness, Jesus has returned to begin His ministry in the power of the Spirit. But the first thing He finds is opposition. Just because the Spirit is upon you doesn’t mean that everything will be easy. There will still be opposition from those who don’t believe.

But, Jesus is still anointed; He is still preaching the good news; He is still healing the brokenhearted, setting the captives free, and giving sight to the blind. We are living in the age of jubilee when Jesus is restoring those things that were lost by sin and stolen by Satan. That is good news. Don’t turn your back on Him because of unbelief. Believe and receive all that God has in store for you today.

July 4 – “Fresh Bread”

Day 185 – Read Luke 4:1-13 

Luke 4:4 – But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’”

I love the smell of fresh bread. In fact, I don’t believe I have ever met anyone who doesn’t. But the smell alone doesn’t satisfy. It only awakens the appetite and stimulates a desire to eat some of that fresh bread. And bread is best when it is fresh. Day old bread doesn’t have the same effect.

When we lived in Venezuela there was a bakery about a block from our house. Many of the people in the community would buy fresh bread everyday for breakfast. It was almost like the children of Israel going out for manna every morning. And that is what Jesus was referring to when He quoted this phrase from Deuteronomy 8:3.

The children of Israel were dependent upon God sending manna every morning. Without His provision they would have starved to death in the desert. But God was not only feeding them, He was teaching them to live in obedience to His Word. When Jesus came, He gave a whole new meaning to this experience. Referring to the provision of manna in the desert, He said, “I am the bread of life…” (John 6:35, 48).

Just as food is necessary for physical health and survival, so a daily relationship with Jesus through the Word is essential for our spiritual wellbeing. You can go several days without food, but each day your body grows weaker, begins to suffer malnutrition, and eventually dies. It is no different with our spiritual life. A healthy Christian is one who is daily feeding upon God’s Word and walking in fellowship with Him.

July 3 – “Join the Heavenly Choir”

Day 184 – Read Luke 2

Luke 2:13-14 –And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

This is not the first time that the heavenly hosts rejoiced in song. When God created the earth, Job 38:7 says that “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” Should it be any different at the beginning of His new creation in Christ?

Here we see heaven and earth coming together to declare the purpose of God. God is glorified in the highest places with the highest praise. Psalm 19:1 tells is that “the heavens declare the glory of God.” But the earth was living in rebellion against God, not giving Him the glory He deserved. So God took the first step toward reconciliation in sending Jesus.

The Westminster Catechism states that “man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” So, Jesus came as the Prince of Peace. First, to restore peace to a broken relationship between God and man. And secondly, to fill the heart of man with the peace of God that passes all understanding. In a troubled world, Jesus offers peace that cannot be found in any other place than a reconciled relationship with God (John 16:33).

God’s desire and intention for man is always good. But, that can only be experienced fully as we live in fellowship with Him. Let us join the heavenly hosts in praising God and giving glory to Him. As we do, we will begin to experience heavenly blessings here on earth.

July 2 – “Nothing is Impossible”

Day 183 – Read Luke 1:34-80

Luke 1:37-38 –“For with God nothing will be impossible.” Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”

We have a tendency to think of Mary as someone special, and rightly so. She was chosen for a special purpose.   Verses 28 and 42 both say that she is blessed among women. So we don’t want to minimize the importance of her place in history. She did something that no other woman has ever done, and we are grateful.

At the same time, we shouldn’t elevate her to a place of deity, or think that she was someone so special that God could not have found another to take her place. What if she would have said, “Sorry Gabe, but you’ve got the wrong virgin”? God would have found someone else. Thank God she didn’t, and because of her willingness to be used by God in this way we now have an example to follow.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to her he greeted her with the words, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you” (v. 28). That is one of the reasons we look at Mary in a different way from everyone else. But Ephesians 1:6 gives us some important insight. It says that we have been “accepted in the Beloved.” The literal translation of this phrase is that in Christ we are “highly favored.” It is the same word used with Mary.

God is with us just as He was with Mary. His grace has been bestowed upon us in such a way that we are highly favored. And nothing is impossible with God. So, what we need to do is to respond in the same way that Mary did in humility and faith, and we will see miracles happen.

Has God spoken a word of promise to you? Receive it and believe it, and it shall be done.

July 1 – “Never Ending Kingdom”

Day 182 – Read Luke 1:1-33

Luke 1:33 – “And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

The theme of the Kingdom of God plays an important role throughout the New Testament. When Jesus began His ministry, He began by declaring that the Kingdom of God was at hand. He even went so far as to say that men should seek first the Kingdom of God above all else (Matt. 6:33). So what makes His Kingdom different from all the rest?

Throughout the ages many kingdoms have come and gone. Some have tried to conquer the world, while others have just wanted to protect their little piece of the earth. Although some have lasted for centuries, none can say that it is an eternal kingdom. They can make many promises, but none can guarantee safety and peace of mind. The US discovered that on 9/11, and many times since.

But the Kingdom of God is not of this world, and is therefore not limited by what the world can produce or offer. Rather than entering it through physical birth and location, it is a spiritual Kingdom entered through spiritual birth. It is not dependent upon one’s citizenship or heritage, but is available to everyone, everywhere, no matter what your status is in this world. One’s wealth cannot buy entrance or position in the Kingdom of God, and the poor are not excluded or subservient in any way.

The quality of life in the Kingdom of God far surpasses the quality of life in earthly kingdoms. In the Kingdom of God there is love, joy, peace, health, happiness, holiness, blessing, eternal life, and so much more. No earthy kingdom can promise all of that. And one day, the seventh trumpet shall sound, and the angel will proclaim: “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15).

Invest in God’s Kingdom and you will reap eternal rewards.

June 30 – “Doubters Can do Great Things”

Day 181 – Read Mark 16

Mark 16:14-18 – Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart,… And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature… And these signs will follow those who believe…”

I have always been challenged, and encouraged, by this passage of scripture. When you read verses 15-18 it is a call to preach the gospel with power and confirming signs. That is the challenge. Do I have enough faith to believe that lives will be transformed through my sharing of the gospel?

At times we think that it was only for the eleven, and perhaps those super spiritual people that God has gifted in special ways. The challenge is to become one of those people; and so often we don’t feel like we can measure up.

But you can’t start reading at verse 15 and get a clear understanding of the great commission. It wasn’t given only to special people; it was given to all who believe. So, when we start at verse 14, we find a group of doubters. That encourages me. Before Jesus gave them the call to go and do great things, He rebuked their unbelief.

That encourages me because I can relate to those doubters. They weren’t extraordinary people, they were normal people just like you and me. They had their doubts and fears. They had their limitations and insecurities. They were weak in themselves, but could find their strength in God. They were doubters, but they had the potential to rise to the occasion and do great things.

Don’t ever think that you can’t do the same. The great commission is for you, too. When faced with a great need, God will give you great faith. It doesn’t come from your own power, it comes from the power of the Holy Spirit within. There may be times when Jesus will have to rebuke your unbelief, but that won’t disqualify you from being used by Him to do great things.

June 29 – “A New Covenant”

Day 180 – ReadMark 14

Mark 14:22-25-And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave to them and said, Take, eat; this is My body. :23 Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24  And He said to them, ”This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. 25 Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

The Passover feast was something the disciples were accustomed to celebrating every year.  So, on this occasion, they probably were not expecting anything unusual to happen.  They knew the meaning of the different elements of the meal, and were used to rehearsing the story of the lamb that was sacrificed on the night before the exodus from Egypt.  But when Jesus took the bread He introduced a new element into the meal.

It is hard to know what the disciples thought, or how much they understood, when Jesus broke the bread and said it was His body.  Or, when He took the cup and said it was His blood.  But on that night He was putting an end to the Old Covenant, and introducing a new relationship between man and God.

The Old Covenant was limited to the Jews, or those gentile proselytes who joined the Jewish religion.  It was limited in the length of forgiveness, having to be repeated each year.  And it was limited in dealing with sin, only able to cover the sin, but not able to totally remove it. 

But the New Covenant is available and accessible to all.  The length of forgiveness is forever.  That is why bread and wine were used instead of a real body and blood.  There is no longer any need for another sacrifice.  No more blood needs to be shed.  So, we can eat bread and drink wine in remembrance of that one sacrifice that is sufficient for all.  Our sin has been removed.

The New Covenant not only looks back to what Jesus did on the cross, it also looks forward to a new day when He comes again in His Kingdom.  When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we can be grateful that we live under the New Covenant of grace, and not the Old Covenant of the Law.  And we do so with the hope that one day we will eat it together with our Lord.

June 28 – “A Great Waste or a Great Work”

Day 179 – Read Mark 14:1-11

Mark 14:3-6 – And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as He reclined, a woman came with an alabaster vial of pure, costly ointment of spikenard. And she broke the vial and poured it on His head. 4And some were indignant to themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? 5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and be given to the poor. And they were incensed with her. 6 And Jesus said, Let her alone! Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work towards Me.

The pouring out of the ointment was symbolic of Christ pouring out His life for us.  Just as the ointment was costly, the life of Jesus was the most costly sacrifice ever offered.  But many thought it was a waste.

However, there is a secondary application that relates to us.  This woman was willing to pour out what was possibly her most valuable possession for Jesus.  In doing so, she was pouring out her heart.  Is there anything too precious, or too costly, for Him?

In the eyes of the disciples, her offering was a great waste.  But, in the eyes of God, it was a great work.  So it is, in the eyes of many, whatever we give to God is a great waste.  But our reward doesn’t come from them.  I have a friend that was offered a basketball scholarship to a major university, but he turned it down to go to Bible College.  Many thought he was crazy and had lost a great opportunity.  But, he went on to do a great work for God.

Many today who have gained fortune and fame will one day stand before God and discover that they really had wasted their life.  While others, who never amounted to much in the eyes of the world, will stand before God and hear “you have done a great work for Me.”

As Jesus poured out His life for you, are you willing to pour your life out for Him?

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