Why the Old Testament?

* Old Testament – Judges 11 & 12

Poetry – Psalm 112

New Testament – Luke 12

The last week of readings for Seek, Grow, Love has quickly taken us through the first half of the book of Judges, introducing new rulers of Israel, highlighting their good and bad actions, and then moving on to the next. The ultimate point and purpose of Judges is not always obvious; God clearly called up leaders of Israel and empowered those leaders through His holy spirit, but their track records may leave us asking, “Why did God want us to remember this person?” or, “How does this part of the O.T. relate to me as a Christian, 2000 years after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension?” We could ask the same questions about many parts of the Old Testament.

God has many purposes for the Old Testament, for both its original audience and for us as Christians today. Judges, in particular, is part of the narrative that establishes a cultural and national identity for Israel. Think back just a few weeks, when today’s Jews celebrated Passover: before its exodus from Egypt, Israel probably did not view itself as a nation on par with the surrounding tribes and kingdoms. The first Passover and subsequent Exodus firmly established Israel as separate from its neighbors, with a special relationship with God. It is both a spiritual and national ethnogenesis. The Book of Judges continues the historical and spiritual narrative that reinforces Israel’s identity. Every character and every judge adds another element to that identity.

Today’s reading in Judges takes us to Jephthah. Overall, Jephthah is completely consistent with the pattern established earlier: in a period of danger and spiritual decline, God calls an Israelite, of ordinary stock for the most part, to lead Israel through the present struggle. Through this, God demonstrates His continual love for Israel and preserves the nation. The narrative purpose of Judges is also captured in Jephthah’s letter to the Ammonites in 11:12-28; this is essentially a short-form summary of God’s actions in preserving Israel and bringing it into the promised land. Jephthah’s message to the Ammonite king is recorded for Israel to remember. Then, there is the record of the victory over the Ammonites – with the specific attribution, ‘the LORD handed them over to him’ (11:32). Yet again, God leaves a record of His care over Israel.

Another purpose of the Old Testament is to establish the context for the coming of Jesus and the patterns that prefigure him as God’s Messiah. One part of today’s reading from Judges 11 that stands out is the specific circumstances of Jephthah’s life. Jephthah was “the son of a harlot” (11:1) and later in life his half-brothers drove Jephthah out and said to him, “You shall not have an inheritance in our father’s house, for you are the son of another woman.”’ (Judges 11:2b NASB). Despite this, Jephthah must have had a charismatic personality, with some natural leadership ability, because ‘worthless men gathered around Jephthah, and they went wherever he did.’ (11:3b NASB). Jephthah, due to the circumstances of his birth, was not naturally destined for leadership or respect. Yet, God uses this man to lead Israel in its struggle with and later victory over the Ammonites. In this manner, Jephthah is another pattern for who Jesus would be: of “questionable” birth (perspective matters, of course), with leadership abilities and purpose that did not fit the typical expectations of a man from an unimpressive town. God’s calling Jephthah to be leader over Israel is another instance of God selecting the unexpected, the cast-off, as the instrument of His purpose. It is entirely in congruence with the description of Jesus as

‘A stone which the builders rejected,

This has become the chief cornerstone;

This came about from the Lord,

And it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

(Mark 12:10b-11 NASB; cf. Psalm 118)

Jephthah, rejected by his half brothers, and yet the leader that Israel needed, is an example that points us to Jesus as the one chosen by God to be king over His kingdom.

Whenever you read a portion of the Old Testament, consider the two purposes discussed here: remembrance and prefiguring. Look for the examples, the records, of God’s ongoing care for Israel as He promised; those examples give us confidence that his promises of the Age to Come, the Kingdom of God, will be fulfilled. Then, examine the text to see if you can find characters that prefigure Jesus, shadows of the Messiah (then) to come. You will find him in surprising places!

~Dan Siderius

Reflection Questions

  1. Judges can be a hard book to read. Why?
  2. How are you at remembering how God has cared for His people through all of history and also during your lifetime? What is the danger when we don’t remember? For what do you give God credit, thanks and praise?
  3. What similarities do you see between Jephthah and Jesus? What differences do you see?
  4. What can we learn about God and His plan of salvation through His Messiah Jesus throughout the Old Testament and more specifically in our Bible reading today?

A Great Gift from God

Old Testament: Judges 9-10

Poetry: Psalm 111

* New Testament: Luke 11

I have someone in my family with the love language of giving gifts. She loves to give her friends and family gifts. She has surprised me with birthday presents when my real birth date is months away. We definitely feel the love she is showing us.

In Luke 11, Jesus asks the fathers in the group this question, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

What an amazing promise for us! Our loving, heavenly Father wants to give us the Holy Spirit. We know that the results or fruit of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-26)

Throughout the scriptures, there are so many examples of the LORD filling His children with the spirit and enabling them to do His will and work. We should completely receive God’s spirit as a gift of love to guide us in our spiritual lives. We also find a warning from Jesus about allowing evil to make its home within us. It is important to rid ourselves of all evil and we must also fill ourselves with the things of God.(v.24-26) When we allow the LORD to dwell in us through prayer, reading and obeying the scriptures, it doesn’t leave room in us for evil. This close fellowship we have with God and Jesus should be so strong that it is seen by others. We are to be the light of the world, full of the light given to us from Jesus Christ. That light shows us our true selves, the good and the bad. (v.33-36) He can correct our faults if we allow him to. Notice that Jesus warns the Pharisees and experts in the law about their sin, but rather than changing, they began to oppose him fiercely. (v.37-54) Rather than letting our pride oppose Christ, let us receive his correction. We can live in fellowship with him and feel blessed as we remember his words, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (v.28)

-Rebecca Dauksas

Reflection Questions

  1. Have you asked your Father in heaven for the gift of the Holy Spirit? Are you using it well? Does your life show the results (fruits) of the Spirit in you?
  2. Looking carefully at yourself – what evil needs to be removed so you can fill yourself with what things of God?
  3. Is there a part of the word of God that you have heard but are struggling to obey? What will it take to obey fully?
  4. How do we see God in our reading today? How do we see His Son in our reading today?

Changed by Jesus

Old Testament: Judges 1 & 2

Poetry: Psalm 107

* New Testament: Luke 7

God had given Jesus the ability to perform miracles and the capability to be the “one Teacher” (Matt.23:8) who revealed important messages from Him. In his teachings, we learn the Great Commandment of loving God with all that we are, among other truths of loving our neighbor as ourselves, going into the world to preach the gospel, and so much more. And he didn’t just want us to be aware of these commands, he wanted us to put them into practice. His teachings were to be the foundation on which we build our lives.

The miracles and teaching were attracting a crowd. In Luke 7, we see that people were seeking out Jesus. Each person was very different from the other, but they shared a common need that Jesus could fill. A centurion is seeking healing for his servant, a widow needs resurrection power for her son, a prophet needs reassurance that Jesus is the one, and a sinful woman needs to be assured that her sins are forgiven. But even beyond the glaring needs presented to Jesus, we can see how those in Christ’s presence are being changed.  Just think about all the lives that are influenced and thus transformed because of interactions with those who have interacted with Jesus.

 I imagine that the elders of the Jews were praising God when their plea for healing was granted along with the centurion’s friends and the crowd that followed Jesus. The crowd along with a large funeral procession are awestruck and praised God for resurrecting the widow’s son. What a scene that was! Going from mourning to praise. And of course, I imagine the disciples of John would never forget the message they were given. “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” We can only guess at the large amount of people that were strengthened in the faith because of the imprisonment and execution of John. This event still impacts followers today. Encouraging us to show others our love for Christ even in the middle of some of life’s dismal circumstances.  

And last, we look at Simon the Pharisee. I would imagine that he was forever changed by having dinner with Jesus and by the interruption of the sinful woman. He learned that those who are aware of their great need for forgiveness have a great appreciation for the forgiveness they have received. Being truly forgiven, makes us want to express our thankfulness and love.

When these people entered into his presence, their minds, hearts, and lives are ultimately changed to reflect him more fully. When we enter into the presence of Jesus, we can expect that our lives will be changed, too. Sometimes our desires may be fulfilled, but even more than that, we will have our hearts changed to desire what God has for us.

Enter into his presence today and experience the change that comes from spending time with Jesus. May this change create a ripple effect that will transform your family, friends, coworkers, and community. 

-Rebecca Dauksas and Cayce Fletcher

Reflection Questions

  1. Has your life been changed by Jesus? If so, how? If not, why?
  2. Of the people Jesus interacted with in Luke 7, which one are you most like? What do you share in common? What do you think this person would have told their friends, family, coworkers, community about Jesus following the events of Luke 7? What do you have to tell about Jesus?
  3. What does God reveal about Himself and about His Son in our Bible reading today?

John, Jesus and the Spirit of God

Old Testament: Joshua 19-20

Psalms: Psalm 103

New Testament: Luke 3

Did you know that cities of refuge were first established by God? Did you know that everything good and just has its origins from our God? Our God performs righteous deeds and judgments for all who are oppressed. Our God establishes mercy and justice, and desires that from those who fear him. But often we do not. Instead, we pervert his ways. We do what Romans chapter one says and distort his good gifts and his good intentions for us.

We don’t get what we deserve. We deserve death, or at the very least, a reprimand, like the one God gave through his prophet John the Baptist to the crowds coming to him to be baptized.

Luke 3:7-8 (NASB) 7…“You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance.”

Psalm 103 tells us that our God 10 “has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10). If he did, none of us would be here.

Instead, 12 “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12). We must remember that. He pardons, he heals, he redeems. He’s compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. In our New Covenant, he does this through his son Jesus. That is the God we serve. But we must also remember that he will not strive with us forever.

Can you imagine the impact our modern Sanctuary Cities would have if they functioned with God’s definition of mercy and justice at the helm? One day they will, assuming we still need them, when our righteous ruler, King Jesus returns. In the meantime, we can be Jesus’s hands and feet to the oppressed by asking our Lord Jesus what we can do.

Before the people asked Jesus what they should do, they asked the one who prepared the way before him, John the Baptist, knowing that a man from God had the authority to teach them and tell them what to do. He responds with justice because he knew what to say through the holy spirit.

His responses sound very familiar, like the responses Jesus gives during his ministry. I believe this is because it is the same spirit that is within John the Baptist that is then placed fully upon Jesus at his baptism, but to an even greater measure than it was placed on the highly respected John the Baptist. It reminds me of Elijah, being full of the holy spirit, who went before Elisha, who received an even greater measure of spirit from his God. In fact, the word tells us that John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah. Jesus goes so far as to tell us that John the Baptist “is” Elijah who is to come. Of course, not literally; all in spirit.

The people were amazed by John. They, 15 “were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he was the Christ.” (Luke 3:15). Of course, he was not, and made sure the people knew that the one they were looking for would not baptize them with water, but with the holy spirit.

It is Jesus whom we should look to with our questions. In Jesus we find all the fullness of the spirit of God, without measure, because God gave all power and authority to his son, with whom he is well pleased, until all enemies are made his footstools for him in the end. It is Jesus who is our salvation, a man who is mightier than John the Baptist; A man who eventually gave us the holy spirit, the power and presence of God, so that we could “be Jesus” to those who are oppressed in our day.

Unfortunately, as we look to the perverted justice system in our society, we see that there is much work to be done before our life race ends. It will never be fully just until Jesus returns and makes all wrongs right, but if we have the power now, in an even greater capacity than even Jesus was given, because now the holy spirit is given through Jesus post his death on the cross, we can keep doing the work he left for us to do.  

God told us what he desires from us throughout scripture. Everything he wants for us he wants because it is good for us, and it culminates in Jesus. If we are going to stop perverting God’s words and his will, we must repent and ask God through his son what we must do! He has made known his ways through Jesus in the New Covenant. Remember his precepts through Jesus Messiah and do them. Remember what he did through Jesus and remember what Jesus chose to do for you and I often. Jesus’s yoke is easy. Serve him by doing his will, which is God’s will. And bless the Lord oh my soul for his everlasting lovingkindness!  

-Juliet Taylor


  1. What does it mean to bear fruits in keeping with repentance?
  2. Why do you think God chooses to work through his son? In turn, why do you think Jesus chooses to work through us?
  3. What work do you think Jesus wants you to want to do for him in your life race?

Servants of the Word

Old Testament: Joshua 11 & 12

Psalms: Psalm 100

New Testament: Luke Intro below & Luke 1:1-4

Gospel of Luke Introduction

The gospel of Luke was written by Luke the physician (Col 4:14), who traveled with Paul.  Luke was a gentile who learned about Jesus through careful research from eye witnesses.  Luke wrote the gospel of Luke (the longest Gospel), and the book of Acts – which combined make Luke the most prolific writer in the New Testament.  

The gospel of Matthew was written to a Jewish audience, Mark was written to a Roman audience. Luke was written to Theophilus, for a Gentile audience – to assure Theophilus the truth of what he had been taught about Jesus.  Multiple times, Luke stressed that salvation was for the Gentiles.  For example, Luke 2:30-32, “For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

Luke highlighted Jesus’ love for and ministry to outcasts, including: immoral women, Samaritans, runaways, tax collectors, lepers, and criminals.  Luke also emphasized Jesus’ prayer life.

The gospel of Luke starts with the story of John the Baptist’s birth, and details the familiar birth of Jesus.  Luke then details Jesus’ ministry in Galilee.  The majority of the book focuses on Jesus’ heading to Jerusalem – where he knew he would be crucified.  (Luke 9:51 says, “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.”)  Luke then records Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.

Luke is the only gospel to detail the story of Jesus’ joining two men on the road to Emmaus after his resurrection.  I find this story moving.  I love their response as recorded in Luke 24: 32, “They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

I pray that your heart will be burning within you as you let Jesus speak to you as you open the Scriptures to read the book of Luke.

-Steve Mattison

DEVOTION by Juliet

There were many who tried to compile an account about the things accomplished by the disciples of Jesus, as handed down to them by the eyewitnesses and servants of the word, but it was Luke’s compilation that made the cut.

Luke investigated everything carefully from the beginning (of Jesus’s ministry) and wrote it out in consecutive order. He wanted his reader(s) to know the exact truth about the things that he was learning, which meant that his reader could have been believing some things in error, even though his reader was learning things not too long after there were eyewitnesses to Jesus’s ministry. This should cause us to pause and be mindful of all that we know or think we know.

Truth matters. We should all endeavor to be careful to investigate everything written about and spoken by Jesus, because in him is the knowledge of salvation.

Did you notice though that Luke’s intro makes a statement we don’t often hear? He said his compilation was an account of the things accomplished by the eyewitnesses and servants of the word, or of the gospel. Whether the “word” here represents Jesus or the entirety of the gospel message, which you find in Jesus the Christ, I am not sure. What I am sure of is that if you want to be a servant of the word, the gospel, you should probably know what it is, desire it, and serve.

Do you know the word, the gospel? Do you desire it, both to know it and serve it? Do you know what it means to serve the word, the gospel? If we don’t, we should investigate it carefully, just like Luke did, to serve it rightly, in truth and without error. But that can be difficult.

The god of this world, Satan, has blinded the minds of those who will perish without the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4). That’s why we have such a great commission set before us as his disciples, to make known to the world the word, which is the gospel of the kingdom of God, which is found in Jesus, who is in the image of God, which leads to salvation.

God wants none to perish, but without the knowledge of the word, the gospel, Jesus, we will perish. It is our service to the word to preach the gospel.

Notice again that Luke says, “servants of the word,” not just knowledge bearers of the word. It follows that if you are servants of the word, that your life and your character will reflect that. If you are servants of the word, then you will be a person that serves self-sacrificially, to whatever extent is needed in the plan of God, for the salvation of others.

Within our commission, we may have specific tasks that God grants us to do for him on an individual basis to accomplish his work. If we want to know what that work is, we have to get to serving. The more we do for him through Christ, the more service he will give us to do work with while his son is away.

In Joshua, we read about his service and sacrifice to God for the salvation of others, which involved conquering all the lands that God told him to conquer, to be the one through whom he would give his people of his time the promised land. But he didn’t become this servant of the words God spoke to him just because he acknowledged that what was spoken by God was true. He became this servant because of his service to do what God told him to do, reflecting his character, his faith in God to do what he said he’d do.   

In Psalm 100, we can read about one of many services that David is well known for. He brought the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God when he came before him, acknowledging who his God was often, acknowledging his name Yahweh, and the work of his hands, namely, us. The byproduct of David’s service reflects his heart, his character, which is after God’s own heart.

Through Luke’s personal service and sacrifice to God through his narrative, we’ll read about our Messiah Jesus, and see his self-sacrificial service embedded in his entire life, written in consecutive order. Once his ministry began, the man didn’t even have a place to call home, as he was too busy serving others to settle in one location. His servitude and devotion to his God culminated in his final earthly work at his death on the cross, leading to the salvation of all.

Remember as we read Luke’s narrative that he was one of only 4 writers out of many whose compilation succeeded in becoming what are commonly referred to as “the gospels”. What an accomplishment! This tells me that if you want to be servers of the word, you’ve got to have a desire to do it and to do it with everything that is in you, because that’s the person you’ve become after receiving the knowledge of Christ.

As we continue on in our reading in Luke chapter 1, let’s take note of all the witnesses and servants of the word with the same careful investigation that Luke gave to his narrative. While we search for the exact truth about the things we’ve been taught, let’s examine the servitude and character of the people who were closest to Jesus, as well as the consequences that followed. After gaining the knowledge of what was accomplished by the original servants of the word, the gospel, let’s get to being the servants of the word of our generation.

-Juliet Taylor

Reflection Questions:

  1. Luke’s narrative was written in consecutive order. Do you know how the other three narratives that met the gospel cut were ordered?
  2. How are you a servant of the word?
  3. What character trait do you want to portray to others after being a servant of the word?

Jesus Explains So Much

Old Testament Reading: Joshua 9 & 10

Psalms Reading: Psalm 99

New Testament – Jesus: Luke 24

Before I knew the significance of what God did through his people of old, that everything done points to his Messiah, Jesus the Christ, Joshua was my favorite Old Testament “character.”

It was Joshua who was met by the captain of the Yahweh’s army. It was Joshua who led the children of Israel into the promised land. It was Joshua who fought the battle of Jericho, blowing trumpets and shouting as the walls came tumbling down. It was Joshua the Lord helped using hailstones to defeat his enemies, and it was Joshua, a man, whom God listened to, to make time stand still.

And yet, Joshua cannot compare to our Lord Jesus and what God has done and will do through him.

We mustn’t be foolish. We must know and understand what the prophets said about Jesus to fully understand how significant he is to us. Praise be to God through him that we can gain that wisdom through the help of the holy spirit that was poured out by him because he earned that right. Now everything made new is through him.

Jesus himself taught these things about himself after his resurrection to the men on the road to Emmaus. Beginning with Moses, he explained to them the things concerning himself in all the scriptures.

I’m going to begin explaining some things I’ve learned about him and God’s plan of salvation, beginning in Joshua.

As Joshua, the son of Nun, conquers the land promised by God, he is met with a people who are not the children of Israel, but fear Yahweh and believe that he will do for Israel what he has said, by destroying all the inhabitants of the land to give it to God’s chosen people.

These people were the Gibeonites. They deceived the leaders of the children of Israel into making a covenant with them to save their lives. The terms of the covenant granted them life as slaves in exchange for not being destroyed.

It was a mistake to not seek the counsel of Yahweh prior to entering this covenant, but we see that God continues to work with his people through their failures. They continue to break the terms of their own covenant with God time and time again, but God is forgiving and merciful, just like he is with us after we entered the New Covenant with him through his son Jesus.

Watch the parallels of this story with end time prophesy. It’s quite remarkable.

The people of Gibeon, now servants to the children of Israel, called on the name of their leader Joshua (same name as Jesus) to be saved when they came under attack by the current King of Jerusalem, Adoni-Zedek (meaning Lord of justice or Lord of righteousness; yet he was not really THE lord of justice -that is reserved for the true Lord of Righteousness, our Messiah Jesus) and the other 5 Kings of the Amorites.

God saves Joshua’s servants (Gibeonites) through Joshua (Jesus). . In a similar manner, he will save the gentiles, us, who were not God’s people, but are His after we become the servants of his Son Jesus. He confuses the enemy as Joshua pursues them and He sends hailstones to give Joshua (Jesus) the victory.

To the five Kings who went up against him, he kept them in caves covered by a large stone, sealing them in until the time is right for his people to put their enemies under their foot (literally).

On the day Joshua (Jesus) defeats the Amorites, he, a man, asks God to make time stand still, and God listens. There was never a day like it before or since the time of the writing of Joshua, a day when the LORD (Yahweh) listened to a human being. Surely the LORD (Yahweh) was fighting for Israel!

One greater than Joshua, and all those God answered in the past, is now seated at the right hand of God! Because of this, we can come to the throne room of God in his son Jesus’s name and have confidence that he will hear us, humans, too.

We are privy to know and understand the gospel as recorded in our bibles in the New Testament, which is something Jesus’s own disciples, who walked with him on earth, didn’t have. 

Let us do our part in understanding the scriptures (the Old Testament) and the words of our Lord Jesus (the gospel; the Much of the New Testament) through the spirit, to hear the words he spoke, that all things which are written about him in the Law of Moses and the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled (Luke 24:44).

Let us pray to the God of Jesus that we would not be foolish and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken, rather, let our hearts burn within us. “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem (Luke 24:46-47). 

Praise be to God that the servants of his son Jesus (Gentiles) can be forgiven because God listens to a man (our Jesus), and accepts us through him.

We were a people who were not God’s people, but were grafted in through God’s son, a man whom he chose to save us through, as the mediator of a better covenant, with better promises.

I cannot wait for God to listen to the man Jesus of Nazareth again, our better Joshua, our Messiah, to make time stand still for us in the Kingdom of God.

-Juliet Taylor


  1. What parallels do you see between Joshua in chapters 9 and 10 and Jesus regarding end time prophesy?
  2. Why is it important to know all that is spoken about Jesus Messiah in scripture?
  3. How do you feel knowing that God listens to you, a human, when you come to him in his Son’s name?

Preparing Your Heart: Acceptance

*Theme Week – Jesus: Mark 15

Old Testament Reading: Joshua 5 & 6

Psalms Reading: Psalm 97

Jesus is dead and sealed in a tomb. And Barabbas is free. 

Can you imagine waking up on the day after you were to die a deservedly horrific and public death? Waking up free? The sun is shining. Birds sing. Life continues around you. You should be dead, but you’re not. 

Mark’s account of our Messiah’s death here mentions the centurion standing guard over Jesus. This Roman witnesses something he probably didn’t know much about. Even those raised with the prophecies of the savior didn’t comprehend what was happening. But this Roman soldier sees all that happened during Jesus’ death and he says, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

I wonder what he did with that information. I wonder what you will do with it. 

Upon Jesus’ death, the heavy curtain separating God’s presence from the rest of the world was torn in two. You are no longer separated from our heavenly father. Christ is now your way to Him. And Christ was the only sacrifice significant enough to truly allow salvation. 

It’s Saturday. Barabbas is guilty but free. The centurion is ignorant of God’s plan but knows exactly who Jesus is. And Jesus is innocent but dead. 

Where are you this day? The way to God is now open. You are free. You know who Jesus Christ is. And better still, you know what happens next. So what will you do with this information?

Take some time with me today to prepare yourself by opening your heart and accepting the gift that has been given. Ask yourself:

How am I like Barrabas? I’m living today, and can be free from my sin, but am I behaving like someone who has been given another chance? 

How can I better know Jesus Christ, the Son of God? Am I spending enough time in Scripture? 

My way to God is clear, but am I seeking Him? How can I do a better job of recognizing God and acknowledging Him in everything?

Have I truly accepted the gift of salvation? And am I showing that in my words and actions and choices?

My prayer for us today is that we recognize Jesus’ crucifixion for what it was: a sacrifice that was made so that we can live free of sin, so that we could be reunited again with our God. Reflect on this today, and accept the gift that has been given. He’s in the tomb and we are not. Today we remember the sacrifice. Tomorrow we celebrate!

Jenn Haynes

(Editor’s Note: Jenn has done a great job this week preparing us for a celebration of the Resurrection! If you haven’t yet had a chance to attend or view a Good Friday service of reflection you might also find benefit in that. Here is a link to one that 3 churches in northern Indiana did last night which was set up as a memorial Celebration of Life service after the death of Jesus.)

Preparing Your Conscience: Seeking Forgiveness

*Theme Week – Jesus: Matthew 27

Old Testament: Joshua 3 & 4

Psalms Reading: Psalm 96

Let’s face it. We’ve all done things we have felt guilt over. Accepting responsibility for our actions is one of the most difficult lessons to learn. 

We see in this account of Jesus’ arrest and subsequent torture and death a few different takes on acknowledging wrong done and accepting, or denying, blame. 

Judas’ guilt is overwhelming. So much so, that he no longer knows how he can go on living. We don’t know what Judas said to God in his final moments or whether he sought forgiveness. But rather than trying to find repentance in living a Godly life, he decides to take his own. 

The Jewish leaders who paid Judas to betray his rabbi and Christ acknowledged that the money Judas returned to them was blood money. If that isn’t a confession of some form of guilt, I’m not sure what is. And yet they, too, choose not to repent. Instead they continue on with their mission. 

Pilate, warned by his wife, knows that the man before him is not guilty of any crime worthy of death. He gives the people several outs, including offering over a known, terrible criminal. But rather than stand up to the crowd, he proclaims himself guiltless and allows them to take away to torture and kill a man he knows is innocent. 

And the Jewish crowd. This one hurts me most of all, because in true mob mentality, they flippantly ignore their consciences, ignore God’s presence, and accept all guilt of Jesus’ death. And they do it without second thought, it seems. They accept the blame not only on themselves, but on their children as well! 

Our savior stood before all these people, blameless and betrayed, and said not a word of condemnation or defense. How many sins have we committed that have been laid upon his shoulders? 

Isaiah 53:6-8 says: 

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.

For our transgressions, to take care of our guilt, he was punished and died. 

Today is Good Friday, the day we remember Christ’s sacrifice. Take some time with me today to prepare yourself by seeking forgiveness. Ask yourself:

What sins have I committed that I have laid on my Messiah’s shoulders? There are so many, but which have I not sought forgiveness for? 

Are there sins that I’m not sure how to handle, and that seem hopeless, like Judas’? How can I turn them over?

Are there sins that I’m choosing to ignore, like the Jewish leaders? How can I repent and turn the other way?

Are there sins that I could avoid or turn a blind eye to like Pilate? How can I call them out for what they are and act against them?

Are there sins that I’m willingly accepting blame for but I’m determining them inconsequential so I can continue doing them like the angry mob? How can I fully realize and accept how they are affecting my life in a negative way?

I pray that today as you meditate with me and observe Jesus’ sacrifice for all our sins, we are able to call out our sins for what they are and spend time with God seeking forgiveness and redemption. His son suffered and died for us, to cleanse us of those sins. Today is a day for reflection and repentance, so please take the opportunity for it. 

We mourn the suffering of our savior today and the fact that we, and our sins, are the cause of it. But because our God is good, we know that our sin and that cross are not the end of the story. 

Jenn Haynes

Preparing Your Mind: Recognizing Priorities

*Theme Week – Jesus: Luke 23

Old Testament Reading: Joshua 1 & 2

Psalms Reading: Psalm 95

The next few days of readings will be centered around Jesus’s crucifixion. Luke’s account tells us of the interaction that Jesus had with the thieves on the crosses next to Christ, which is what I’m focusing my attention on today. 

Jesus has been arrested and has appeared before Pilate, the highest Roman official in the area, and been found guilty of nothing more than inciting a spiritual revolution. Yet he was punished and tortured and hung up on a cross with criminals to die an agonizing death. 

The criminals were guilty. They knew that they were being punished for wrongs they had committed. Still one mocked Jesus, telling him to save himself and them. The other, however, knows that he has sinned. He knows that he deserves punishment and that Jesus does not. And rather than asking Jesus to remove him from the cross and death, he has his focus on something far more important. He asked Jesus to remember him when he comes into his kingdom. 

How remarkable. Honestly, when I’m in trouble I’m not thinking of whether or not I deserve that trouble. I’m not focused on what is ultimately important. I should be acknowledging that I’ve done wrong and that I likely deserve whatever mess I’m in. I should acknowledge that whatever battle I’m in the midst of, I can continue to fight because God has already won the war. Instead, I’m just looking for God to rescue me from my current situation. I’m looking for an easy way out. I have lost sight of the end game, which is an everlasting kingdom that can be had by accepting the gift of grace offered to us when Jesus was punished and killed for our transgressions. 

The thief had his priorities straight, and Jesus acknowledged it by promising him a place in his everlasting Kingdom. How beautiful. 

Take some time with me today to prepare yourself by realigning your priorities. Ask yourself: 

When I am struggling, is my focus on myself or on God’s plan? 

Have I accepted the free (for me) gift of salvation, or am I still trying to earn my way into God’s kingdom? 

Have I truly acknowledged and accepted that no matter what I have done or said to redeem myself, I cannot?

How can I better reflect my joy and gratitude for this gift of eternal life? How can I express it to others so that they can accept it as well? 

My prayer for you and myself today is that we each accept with a humble heart the gift of salvation, acknowledging that it is only by grace that we are saved. I pray that we accept that grace with extreme joy, because it is truly something to celebrate. I pray that our priorities are not focused on anything in this world, but on God’s coming kingdom. 

Jenn Haynes

Preparing our Attitude

*Theme WEek – Jesus: John 13

Old Testament Reading: Deuteronomy 31 & 32

Psalms Reading: Psalm 92

I used to read the Gospels and try and compare myself with various characters. And I never wanted to see myself in Peter, and yet here we are. I never wanted to compare myself to the man who seemed to so frequently fly off the handle or get things wrong. I didn’t want to be like the one who sunk in the waves and denied his Christ three times in one night. But I most definitely feel a kinship with him, especially when I read this passage. 

Poor Peter. His Rabbi, who he has been so close to and loved so much, is humbling himself to wash Peter’s feet and he’s clearly mortified. This was something only the lowliest of servants did. And here was Christ, washing his feet, when none of his disciples had thought to do the same for him. And then when Christ says his disciple can’t be clean unless his feet are washed, he insists Christ wash his hands and head as well. He’s so desperate and proud that it’s a little heartbreaking. Because he has it all wrong. 

Jesus is about to die. He’s about to suffer and die for each of them, and for each of us. And they all have to humble themselves enough to accept that sacrifice. They cannot save themselves. They cannot fully cleanse themselves. Only by accepting Christ and his act of servitude for us can we be clean. 

And not only that, but we have to follow Christ’s example and humble ourselves to serve others. We are not too good to be served, and we are not too good to serve either. 

Peter is fighting this internal battle with himself. He wants to serve Christ, but can’t accept with grace the gift of service that has been given to him. He wants to serve Christ, but perhaps not humble himself so low to serve others in this manner as well. 

Jesus loved his followers dearly. In the beginning of the passage it says that he loved them to the end. This means he loved them to the fullest of capacity and without end. And here he has poured out every bit of himself into complete humility and served them in the basest of ways. 

Our savior did that for us when he was tortured and crucified. This is the attitude of love and service we should have for others. 

Take some time today and prepare your attitude with me. Ask yourself: 

Have I truly acknowledged the deep, humbling act of service that Jesus has done for me? 

In what areas of my life am I still too proud? 

Am I focusing too much on the fact that my feet climbed out of the boat and walked on water, rather than the fact that my feet also sank beneath the waves and I had to be pulled out? 

How can I serve someone else in humility as well this week? 

Am I showing others a deep love and a servant’s heart? 

My prayer for each of us today is that we truly and fully recognize the gift that has been given to us and accept it with full humility, acknowledging our great need for it. I also pray that as we acknowledge our need for salvation and cleansing, we turn and offer grace and service to others as well, so that they can see Christ serving in us. 

Jenn Haynes

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