This Only Do I Seek

Old Testament Reading: Genesis 49 & 50

Psalms Reading: Psalm 27

New Testament Reading: Matthew 26

(Sorry, if you didn’t receive this earlier today – it seems to have appeared on wordpress and facebook this morning, but not to the email list…Or, sorry if you DID receive it earlier this morning and this is now a repeat.)

If you could have anything in the world, what would it be?


For some of you, the answer might be a trip to a neat destination (Ireland seems pretty awesome). For others, it might be to finally marry that person of your dreams. Maybe you would ask to have children one day, or for your current children to have successful lives. If you’re in some financial difficulty, like so many are, maybe you’d wish to just be debt-free. None of those things are bad of course! However, they aren’t the most important thing; and thankfully, you don’t need to have a magic genie in a bottle to acquire the most important thing. It is readily available to each and every believer right now.


In Psalm 27, the author (likely not David due to his references to the Temple) states that the only desire he is seeking after is to be in the presence of YHWH in His holy temple. For the author, God’s presence was the most precious gift one could ask for; it surpassed all the greatness to be found on earth. For in God’s presence, one can finally be at rest and peace (see Psalm 23), and receive the forgiveness of sins that all of us long for (see Psalm 25). Being in God’s presence is everything; and thankfully, it is readily available to us.


In the New Testament, Jesus says that “wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst” (Matthew 18:20), and wherever Jesus is found, God’s presence is found, too (see John 1:14; 14:9). If you truly want to experience God’s presence today, the greatest gift that you could ever experience in this life, it is available with other believers. When we gather together to worship, to serve, or even to eat a meal, the presence of God is there. We feel closest to God when we are surrounded by our brothers and sisters in the faith, gathering together in Jesus’ name. And while you can pray to God in private by yourself, you will never experience His powerful glory if you remain alone; we need to prioritize time together as believers (Hebrews 10:25). We were not designed to be alone (Genesis 2:18), but to enjoy fellowship with each other.

Brothers and sisters, come and join with your fellow Christians today and this week. There is no greater gift on earth than what you can experience there.

-Talon Paul

REFLECTION QUESTIONS

  1. What verse from Psalm 27 would be a good one to have on your refrigerator and in your heart this week? Make it so.
  2. What are the benefits of being together with your Christian brothers and sisters? List as many as you can. In what ways can you make more opportunities and time to do this more and more?
  3. What do you learn of God in your reading today?

Put IT to Work

Old Testament Reading: Genesis 47 & 48

Psalms Reading: Psalm 26

New Testament Reading: Matthew 25

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells a parable about a man who entrusts his money to three of his servants while he is away. They each receive a different amount of wealth: 10, 5, and 1. The master doesn’t instruct them on what to do with it; he simply leaves it in their possession and takes off. The first two double their money: the 10 now having 20, and the 5 now at 10. However, the servant who only had 1 chose not to risk losing it; he chose to bury it in the ground so that his master wouldn’t be upset with him. He was terrified of what his master might do to him if he was to lose his one and only amount of money. Unfortunately for him, this was the wrong choice and he was punished for it, because he could have made at least a little amount from it at the bank.


The parable is revealing of our Christian walk as well. Our Master, Jesus, has entrusted us with different things in this life to use and bring others to saving faith. Some of us have more money and opportunities than others, but every single one of us has been entrusted with something. You might have money, people, a position at work or school, a certain hobby, physical health, or a variety of different gifts. Jesus expects us to use whatever we have been given for the sake of the Kingdom of God. He doesn’t want us to waste it, and honors it when we give it a shot (did you notice that both of those who tried doubled their investment?). When we choose not to make an attempt, we are operating out of fear, which is the opposite of what Jesus and God empowers us with (2 Timothy 1:7).


What have you been entrusted with by your Master? Take some time to write down what skills, people, and possessions you have been given in a column on a piece of paper. How can you use that to further the gospel message of the Kingdom? Take some time to brainstorm and write down in a separate column next to that first list any ideas that come to mind.


You’ve been given something; don’t waste it. And Jesus is with you always through the process, so don’t fear anything (Matthew 28:20)

-Talon Paul

Reflection Questions

  1. Take some time to create your two columns: What have you been entrusted with by your Master? and How can you use that to further the gospel message of the Kingdom? Return to it throughout the weekend with more thoughts. What have you been given that you never considered using to spread the good news of the Kingdom?
  2. Has fear stopped you from using your talents? What should we be most fearful of (men, what others think, what if I mess up – or – what will happen when the Master returns)?
  3. What can we learn from the other two parables in Matthew 25?
  4. What do we learn of God and His Son Jesus in our reading today?

And then The End will Come

Old Testament Reading: Genesis 45 & 46

Psalms Reading: Psalm 25

New Testament Reading: Matthew 24

I am practically lost without an instruction manual. I have relied on instruction manuals for everything, from constructing Legos and Bionicles when I was young (does anyone remember those?), to building cheap furniture from the department store. Instruction manuals bring order to the chaos; they provide a clear path forward to your desired goal. I admire people that can “wing it” and still accomplish their task without a set of instructions; I am not one of those gifted people. However, I believe that instruction manuals are a good analogy for our Christian life and purpose moving forward; after all, Jesus gave us clear instructions too.


In Matthew 24, we find one of the most interesting and debated texts in the entire Bible. There are details that depict what is going to happen when the city of Jerusalem is conquered by Rome in 70 AD, and there are details about when Jesus will come again on the clouds of heaven to establish the Kingdom of God. Books on top of books have been written about this passage, and its parallels in Mark and Luke; however, not enough has been said about the practical instructions Jesus gives to us here among all the chaotic images described. In verse 14, we are told that, in the midst of all the craziness, we Christians have one job: to share the gospel of the kingdom to the whole world. In fact, Jesus tells us that he will not return until this job has been accomplished.


Brothers and sisters, the greatest contribution you can make in this life is telling someone else about God’s coming kingdom. It is in this message that true salvation is found. It is in this message that God will redeem humanity and the earth. It is in this message that your sins can be forgiven. This message needs to be shared not just in other countries, but with your friend, your neighbor, and everyone else in your life. This is our only mission in life as Christians before Jesus comes back: let’s follow the Great Instruction Manual given by Jesus by sharing the same message that he shared (Luke 4:43). You can truly save a life.

-Talon Paul

Reflection Questions

  1. What are your thoughts and feelings as you read Matthew 24? In your opinion, what is the best part of the chapter? What do you find of great value?
  2. Reading through Matthew 24 what instructions, warnings and promptings do you find from Jesus?
  3. What are you doing to share the good news of the coming Kingdom? What might Jesus like to see you doing this month that you haven’t already been doing?
  4. What did God reveal about Himself today in your reading of His words?

Take the Lowly Position

Old Testament Reading: Genesis 33 & 34

Psalms Reading: Psalm 19

New Testament Reading: Matthew 18

In our daily life we find ourselves interacting with others. It may have been less often over the last few years, but still we were created to be social beings. So it should come as no surprise that a lot of the teachings of Jesus would have to do with how we should treat those people when we come in contact with them. 

Here in Matthew 18 he begins by correcting his disciples over a fight they were having, on who would be the greatest among them, when they were in the Kingdom. So often we, like the disciples here, find ourselves trying to one up each other. We want to be the one in charge. We want to be the one who has the biggest slice of cake, the one who gets the best parking space, or the one who gets to be at the front of the line. I’m not saying that these things are bad. I’m just saying that in this culture we live in, where everyone is putting their wants and desires above everyone else around them, we are called to be different. We are called by God to put others ahead of ourselves.

I think one of the best examples of putting other people first comes from our greatest example, and who we are to model our lives after, Jesus. In Matthew 14 we find the story of one of the coolest miracles in the Bible. It is the time that 5000 men plus all the women and kids that were with them, were fed with only five loves of bread and two fish. But look at what happened right before this. The beginning of the chapter tells us that Jesus’ own cousin, John the Baptist had just been killed by King Herod, and Jesus got word of it. When he found out, Jesus decided to have some alone time, most likely to mourn for his cousin and to pray. So Jesus and his disciples traveled by boat to a solitary place. But the crowds seeing that he had left followed him. When Jesus arrived and found everyone waiting for him, he didn’t get mad at the crowds and tell them to go away so he can be alone. Instead, the Bible says, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Matt 14:14) Jesus did take some time for himself, to mourn over John later that day, going up on the mountain, while the disciples headed back across the water. But he still put the needs of the crowd ahead of himself.

As you read Matthew 18 today, be sure to notice all the ways that Jesus teaches us to treat others: reaching the lost with the gospel, approaching other believers who have sinned and forgiving those who wronged you. And as you read Jesus’ teachings, think of the examples he set for us, in these regards, by the way he lived his life.

-Jonny Smith

Reflection Questions

  1. In what situations do you have a harder time putting the needs of others before your own? When is it difficult for you to happily and humbly take the lower position?
  2. In what ways is Jesus calling you to be different from the world? In what ways is Jesus calling you to be different from what you were last year?
  3. In what ways does Jesus’ example line up with his teaching?
  4. What can we learn of the Kingdom designer and Father of Jesus in your reading today?

Good Question

Old Testament Reading: Genesis 19 & 20

Psalm Reading: Psalm 12

New Testament Reading: Matthew 11

Where is the darkest place you have been? So dark, you were scared to take a step? The most difficult place you’ve been? So difficult, you doubted? When have your dark, difficult, trying circumstances caused you to doubt what you previously knew to be true?

You are not alone. John has been there, too. Sometimes referred to as John the Baptist or the Baptizer for his message of repentance and baptism, John had faithfully worked for years. Known for his simple lifestyle, his ministry was not about him – but about the one who was to come – the Messiah. He had prepared the way for Jesus’ entrance. He had not taken the easy road. He had not backed down from authority. He continually stood for what was right and true – even when it landed him in prison. The ruling Herod and his wife didn’t appreciate John speaking out against their unlawful marriage.

With his ministry and freedom taken from him, and his future in question, John had a lot of time to think in the darkness of his circumstances. Why? What if…? Was it worth it? Was this supposed to happen? Had he been right? Or wrong? We don’t know all the questions John asked in his prison cell. But, we do know the most important one. The one he needed an answer to. He sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3)

And Jesus answered. Restating the truth that John needed to hear again. Pulling up Old Testament scripture from Isaiah and giving evidence of how his own ministry lined up with what had been foretold: the blind see, the lame walk, the leper is cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the GOOD NEWS is preached to the poor (Matthew 11:5).

In our dark days and when we question what we knew to be true, we would do well to return to Jesus. Tell me again, Jesus. Give me proof of who you are. Read again who he is, what he has done, what he taught, what he did for me. The story of Jesus never gets old, but we do need to be reminded of what we know. And then we have the beautiful opportunity and mandate to tell others of what we have seen and heard.

In the rest of this chapter (as well as the previous one) Jesus demonstrates that following him can be hard. People will criticize everything – our job is not to make people happy. There will be many unrepentant people (and cities) who do not accept the work that Jesus has done for them or the path that Jesus has laid out. Don’t be swayed, know that judgement will come and make sure you are on the right side. Stay close to the one who knows and reveals the Father. Jesus, the Son of God, is the only way. Work with him. Stay attached to Jesus. Take his yoke upon you (Matthew 11:29).

-Marcia Railton

Reflection Questions

  1. Who is Jesus? Do you know that he is the one who was to come? How do you know this? What is the value in reading the Old Testament? What is the value in reading the New Testament?
  2. What is repentance? Why is it important? Without it, what will happen? (Matthew 11:20-24)
  3. What do you learn about God in today’s reading? What do you learn of His Son?

The God Who Sees Me

Old Testament Reading: Genesis 15 & 16

Psalm Reading: Psalm 10

New Testament Reading: Matthew 9

We have a need to be heard.

We have a need to be seen.

In today’s Psalm, the psalmist begins writing about a wicked man who preys on the weak, he doesn’t seek God, “in all his thoughts there is no room for God” (Psalm 10:4), he is haughty and God’s laws “are far from him” (10:5), he is full of lies and threats, and, “He says to himself, ‘God has forgotten; he covers his face and never sees'”(10:11).

There are those who would like to think that God never sees. Don’t be one of them.

In the second part of the Psalm, the psalmist calls out for God to arise and take action, remembering the helpless.

“Why does the wicked man revile God: Why does he say to himself, ‘He won’t call me to account’? But you, O God, do SEE Trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand…You HEAR, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you LISTEN to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed” (Psalm 10:13, 14a, 17a)

And it just so happens that our reading in Genesis has an excellent example of this. Unfortunately, our very own Sarai and Abram, to whom God had promised a child and descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, got tired seeking God’s way and waiting on Him. Perhaps Sarai didn’t think God really saw her trouble and grief, or wasn’t able to do anything about it, if He did see. So her solution (and an accepted custom of the time – still not making it right) was to have her husband sleep with her maidservant Hagar and build a family through her. Hagar did become pregnant and jealousy and bitterness mounted within the household leading Hagar to run away.

She had been oppressed, abused and used.

But God heard her cry.

An angel of the LORD tells her it will be safe for her to go back to Sarai and resume her servant’s role, but that won’t be the end of her story. She will have a child and her descendants will be too numerous to count. I love that she was told to name her child Ishmael which means ‘God hears’. What a great life-long reminder she would have every time she said his name. I also love Hagar’s response. After God named her child, this oppressed and helpless Egyptian servant girl who just met God in the wilderness gives a name to God. “She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.'” (Genesis 16:13 NIV).

You are the God who sees me.

What a privilege to be seen by God.

In our Matthew reading we see that God has passed along this compassionate, caring, seeing trait to his son Jesus as well. Jesus sees the paralytic in need of forgiveness and healing. Jesus sees (and eats with and calls) the sinners and tax collectors (much to the dismay of the pharisees). Jesus sees the sick, the dead, the blind, the demon-possessed, the crowds that are like sheep without a shepherd. He sees and he has compassion and he gives hope and a new life. I am sure God is proud of His son – seeing these traits passed down.

Jesus says there is still work to be done. The harvest fields are full of the sick, the sinners, the oppressed, the Hagars. They want to be seen. They want to be introduced to the God who sees. Pray for God to show you where He wants you to work in his harvest field.

-Marcia Railton

Reflection Questions

  1. Are there times you have resembled the man of Psalm 10:4 – “In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” How will you make room in your thoughts for God and seek Him? What role does pride play?
  2. When have you known God sees you? How can you introduce others to the God who sees and His Son who gives a new life?
  3. What did God reveal about Himself to you in your reading of His words today?

Mistaken Identity

Old Testament Reading: Genesis 11 & 12

Psalm Reading: Psalm 8

New Testament Reading: Matthew 7

Mistaken identity. Incorrectly thinking you found or recognize someone. It makes for a funny sitcom, dramatic court scene or suspenseful spy thriller. But in real life – and specifically when dealing with eternal life – it’s not the best time to realize – you don’t really know who you are dealing with. There is a lot of that going on in Matthew 7:15-23. Now’s a good time to go click the Matthew 7 link above and give it a read if you haven’t yet. Don’t trust my words – I might not be who I say I am, but the words of God are always true and here in Matthew His Son, Jesus, speaks words that are trustworthy and accurate and when acted upon can even save your life/house from destruction in the storm (Matthew 7:24-27). Give it a read.

Its a great chapter with a lot of wisdom – too much for one devotion. Last year I happened to be writing about this chapter in January as well and I was drawn first to “Do not judge…” This week the picture that sticks in my brain is Jesus on THAT day (THE day of judgment) when all will be seen clearly and Jesus effectively sorts out all cases of mistaken identity. Jesus gives the example of those who call him, “Lord, Lord” – but are NOT allowed to enter the kingdom. He even says there will be MANY who call him Lord AND who prophesy (speak) in the name of Jesus, drive out demons and perform miracles – who will NOT be given access to the kingdom. These are not “name only Christians” who only come to church on Easter. These are the ones leading the service! It seems everyone would be quick to call them Christians. But what everyone thinks about these “Christians” won’t matter on judgment day. Jesus sees. Jesus knows. He isn’t fooled by a sheep costume.

How can we tell we aren’t being mistaken about their identity? Is that a sheep? Or is that a wolf? Sometimes it is hard to know. It appears to me that perhaps many of them don’t even know! Did those wolves really think they were the sheep, doing all the right sheeply things? Will they be totally surprised when Jesus denies them entrance to the kingdom? I am guessing the answer is yes for many.

What about me? If I could be wrong about them, and they could be wrong about themselves, could I be wrong about myself? How deep does this mistaken identity problem go? How can I tell? I don’t want to wait until THAT day to find out I was wrong! I don’t want Jesus to block my entrance to eternal life. I don’t want Jesus to call me an evildoer and say that he never knew me. I want to be known by Jesus on that day. So what do I do today?

Jesus tells us. He says it’s not enough to call him Lord and brag about an impressive ministry checklist. Instead, we must be doing the will of His Father in heaven. Am I doing God’s will? How will I know? He’s not just looking for a lot of boxes checked off – that didn’t work. What does He really want from me? What is His will?

Anytime you are sincerely trying to give someone what they want – a birthday present for a family member, a job well done for a boss, or a surprise for a friend – the more you know about the recipient the easier it is to know what they want. Similarly, the more we know God the easier it is to know what He wants, what His will is, and what He doesn’t want. And the best way to get to know God is spending time with Him – seeking Him in His Scriptures, reading His words, speaking to Him in prayer, building a relationship that goes far beyond a checklist.

Don’t be wrong about who God is and what He wills. Seek Him today. Seek Him today and every day from now until THAT day.

Dear God, I pray, reveal yourself to me. Please show me who you are and what you want. I don’t want to be wrong about You and Your Son and Your Kingdom and Your Will. Help me to know your will and do it. I want to be known by Your Son, today and on that day. Help me be pleasing to You.

-Marcia Railton

Reflection Questions

  1. What is your favorite part of Matthew 7 today? Why? How can you act upon it (hear these words and put it into practice – vs 24)?
  2. How can you guard against cases of mistaken identity? What should we look for in determining if one is a true sheep?
  3. What do you learn about God in your reading today? How can you use this information wisely?

The Beginning

Old Testament Reading: Genesis 1 & 2

Psalm Reading: Psalm 3

New Testament: Matthew 2

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” Genesis 1:1-3

The origin of the universe is a topic of serious debate in both Christian and secular culture.  There are many who spend their entire lives, tens of thousands of hours, dissecting chapter one of Genesis or looking for clues through a telescope of how we came to be.  While I hope to shed some “light” and context to today’s reading, you will be disappointed if you are looking for a detailed outline of theory or a presentation of observable evidence; you have the wrong blogger.  What has become apparent to me in my last couple of readings of Genesis is the simple significance of verse one of our sacred scripture.  Whether you argue the lifetime of the universe or the age of earth is thousands or billions of years old, God wanted you to know the understatement of eternity: He created the heavens. He created the earth.

The newest estimates place the universe somewhere at 93 billion lightyears across.  This space is  filled with roughly two trillion galaxies, each containing millions of stars. It’s incomprehensible, without description, unfathomable to our miniscule minds.  While there is “universal” truth when we look to the heavens (Psalm 8:1-4), it is no wonder God doesn’t bog us down with the details. The focus of this revealed narrative is on Earth; the light, the sky, the lands, the seas, the moon and sun, the animals, and finally, us. This makes perfect sense when we consider it was deliberately made for you and I to inhabit for eternity, not just for the handful of breaths that are in life as we know it. 

“Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth. God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:26, 27

While all creation gives glory to God, much of it inspiring awe and wonder, we are the only creation that is directly made in the likeness of the Creator (Gen 1:26). The two-billion galaxy creating Heavenly Father has exalted you as the highest and most purposeful creation. Each one of your 100 trillion cells carry 3.2 billion pairs of unique DNA coding that makes you, you. Again, these are pretty profound and puzzling figures, speaking to the deliberate nature of God Almighty. Because we are made in his likeness, and through Christ are adopted as children of the Light, we have access to the God of the infinite expanse.  And He is not only the God of initial creation, but the God of new creation. The same power that raised Christ from the dead, can be the power that lives in each one of us (Eph. 1:18-21). Jesus has let it be known that there is a place that is being prepared for us according to this new covenant, so we may not only have access to God, but to fully dwell with our Father, God and His son, Jesus Christ. Hallelujah – this is the plan from the beginning.

–Aaron Winner

Reflection Questions

  1. Where do you see God’s amazing qualities in His creation?
  2. What does it mean to you that you are made in His image?
  3. How would you describe the new creation (through Jesus)?
  4. Today is a really fun day to ask – What does God reveal about Himself to you in Genesis 1 & 2? What difference does that make in your relationship with God? Throughout the rest of our Bible reading this year, take note each time God’s creating is mentioned, it might be more than you think. You can create a marking, such as a C in a circle, to add in your Bible margins or journal pages whenever you find reference to God creating.
  5. Praise and thank Him for being the God he is!

(Editor’s Note: If you find yourself unsure of God’s creating – or enjoying more “proof” to share with others – keep searching. There are many scientific and well-researched articles with evidence pointing to the Creator of Genesis 1. You might be interested in starting with a series of devotions written for SeekGrowLove in January 2021 by Greg Landry. Click here for the first one.)

Best Day Ever

Luke 24

Saturday, December 31, 2022

            It was frustrating writing about the way Jesus was tortured and killed, but I get to end the year by writing about the number one very best day in human history.  No other day could have been more exciting, felt so good, and impacted so many people, including you and me.

            Sorry, but I need to start off by dissing a bit on those who loved and supported Jesus throughout his ministry.  Were they not paying attention to what he said?  He told them he was going to die and be raised in three days.  Did nobody remember that fairly critical piece of information?  I could understand them being a bit skeptical and not totally believing that he was going to come back to life until they saw it with their own eyes, but it seems like the ladies that were going to visit the tomb should have been going there to see if it really happened on the third day.  Instead, they were convinced that he was still dead; moreover, they were perplexed when they didn’t find his body there.  Suddenly, two dazzlingly dressed dudes appeared to them and reminded them about the three-day thing.  They did remember at that point they had been told he was coming back to life, so they went back and reported what they had seen to the eleven apostles and others.

            Certainly, the apostles, of all people, would remember what was going to happen.  They had seen many amazing miracles with their own eyes, so of course, they would have enough faith to believe it could have happened, but no; they thought the story was nonsense and didn’t believe the women.  Peter does get some credit, though, because he bounced up, ran to the tomb, and marveled at what had happened.  He believed Jesus was alive before he actually saw him with his own eyes.

            Strangely enough, their sad state of mind made the day that much sweeter for them when they finally saw it was true that he was alive.  They had believed that Jesus was the Messiah, but when he was killed, their hope of him saving the day vanished.  They incorrectly thought he was there to redeem Israel during that time.  They assumed he would get rid of the Roman government and save the world then – not later.  They were truly heartbroken and depressed when they saw Jesus die.

            Think about someone you loved dearly that died.  Perhaps, you saw them laying in the casket and then buried.  A few days have passed, and you are still raw with emotions, experiencing the sting of death.  Then picture the doorbell rings, you answer the door, and that person is standing there with a big smile on their face.  Whoa!!  How doubly incredibly happy you would be!  I think that’s how people felt when they saw Jesus alive again.  It had to be the best day ever!

            You may think it was a bit cruel for me to have you dwell on one of your loved ones that has died.  I am sure you are still missing them.  It still hurts.  However, the fact that Jesus was resurrected on that day a couple thousand years ago can be a promise about the future of your loved one.  If they accepted salvation in their lifetime, they too will come back to life and greet you with a big smile if you also are saved.  What an amazing day that will be – like the amazing day Jesus came back to life.  Jesus was the first to come back to life forevermore, but you or any of your loved ones that die before his return can be next up.

-Rick McClain

Time to ponder:

Do you agree that the resurrection of Jesus was the best day ever?  Can you think of a better day?

Most of Jesus’ closest followers soaked up every word he spoke and were convinced he was the Messiah, but their faith faded fast when something seemed to go very wrong.  Is your faith strong enough to make it through the tough times?

Jesus’ resurrection can give people great hope about the future, but only if they believe.  The story is absolutely meaningless to those who haven’t made the decision to follow God.  Is there a loved one in your life that needs to hear about the good news?

How Could They?

Luke 22

Thursday, December, 29, 2022

            Can you imagine if you lived in Bible times and the son of God handpicked you to be a part of his very exclusive inner circle?  How amazing that would have been to be chosen as one of the twelve disciples!  Spending time in conversation with him daily, watching him perform many miracles, listening to him teach the people and reveal the coming kingdom, and just being around the most awesome dude ever would have been incredible.  Surely, that group of twelve would be so devoted to him that they would never turn against him.  Or, maybe they would.

            Let’s start with Judas.  I’m not making excuses for him, but Luke 22:3 does say that Satan entered into Judas right before he went to the chief priests and officers to devise a plan to betray Jesus so he could be put to death.  Although, how in the world could one of the twelve disciples get to the point where Satan would be allowed to have so much influence over him.  He didn’t have to go along with the temptation Satan presented to him, but he willingly did turn his back on Jesus.  I don’t really understand how he could have justified in his mind such an evil plan, but clearly, he was weak in the faith department and not strong enough to not give in to the temptation.

            I think we accept the fact that Judas betrayed Jesus – because he was Judas.  Who has anything good to say about Judas?  It’s not like he was John, James, or Peter, some of the most impressive disciples.  They would never turn their back on Jesus, until Peter did.

            Peter showed over and over that he loved Jesus and was totally onboard for the cause.  His faith was pretty strong also – strong enough to walk on water for a little bit.  So what went wrong?  How could he have denied Jesus three times in one night.  Furthermore, to make it worse, Jesus even told him right beforehand that he was going to deny him three times.  It seems like after the second time he would have thought, “Okay, that was two times, but there’s no way I’m messing up a third time.  I’m not falling for that one.”  But one of the most devoted of Jesus’ inner circle was not strong enough to not give in to the temptation.

            Let’s fast-forward to today.  How strong is your faith?  Are you onboard with the cause 100% or are you a fair-weather Christian?  What can you do to make sure you don’t give into temptation when tough times hit?  There is one suggestion from Jesus that he stated in verse 40 and again in verse 46.  He told the disciples to pray that they wouldn’t enter into temptation.  I find it interesting that he didn’t tell them to pray to not enter into sin; he told them to pray to not enter into temptation.  Temptation is not wrong.  Jesus was tempted in the same way we are tempted, but he did not give into the temptation and sin.  That is deep, at least to me it is.

-Rick McClain

Time to ponder:

Many of us spend time figuring out how we are not going to enter into sin, but have you ever thought about what you could do (or not do) to not enter into temptation?  That seems like a great place to be because you will probably not sin if you are not tempted to sin.

Is there anything else you can do to prepare yourself to be strong enough to not give in when strong temptations arise?

I’m not going to give you a third question because I think it would be wise to use your time to keep thinking about the first two questions.  There really is a lot there to think and pray about.

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