Archive for December, 2010

Power to Get the Job Done

Daily God Walk for Friday, December 31, 2010

He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  – Acts 1:3-8

Wouldn’t you have liked to have been with them during the forty days Jesus talked to them about the kingdom? Even while they were being instructed by the risen Christ the disciples still did not have a full understanding of the kingdom. In fact, when Jesus told them to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father they thought this would be the time Israel would be restored.

Jesus responded by staying on point. He was not sidetracked with the issue they were raising. His purpose was to convince them that they must stay in Jerusalem until they were filled with the promise the Father had given. The future of the kingdom depended upon them staying in Jerusalem until they were baptized with the Holy Spirit.

He had already told them they would be witnesses to his ministry and purposes, but now he was telling them that they would be given supernatural power that would give evidence to the world that Jesus was the Christ and that salvation comes through faith in him. On the day of Pentecost he gave his followers this power and he calls men and women today to stay at their Jerusalem until they are filled with that power.

Principle: Spiritual power comes to those who wait on God.

Affirmation:  I am learning to wait on the Lord for his power.

Prayer:  Lord, grant me to witness with Holy Spirit power.

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Luke’s Record of His Last Message

Daily God Walk for Thursday, December 30, 2010

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”                                     – Luke 24:45-49

Finally, he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. The disciples were much like anyone else of that day; in fact, they were very much like people today. They believed what they saw, questioned what they heard, and understood through a mind influenced by tradition and experience.

It is after the resurrection and Jesus is giving them their last instructions. They were beginning to understand and to believe that all he told them was going to come to pass. Now he is opening their understanding to the purpose of their call: They would be preaching the forgiveness of sins through faith in the name of Jesus and this ministry would begin in Jerusalem.

These followers of Jesus were about to enter new territory. They had been sent out earlier to proclaim the kingdom of God, but at that time they thought they were heralding Jesus as the king and the king was about to set up his kingdom.

Bit by bit Jesus had been trying to introduce them to the true kingdom of God, but they had been slow to understand. Now he is opening their minds so they can understand. Isn’t that like most of us today? We see, we believe, but our belief is not complete; our understanding is not fully opened.

His command to them was that they would go to Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father. They believed, but as yet they did not understand, but when the promise of the Father came to them it would be revealed to them.

Principle:  The Holy Spirit opens our mind to understand.

Affirmation: The Holy Spirit has opened my understanding.

Prayer: Father, help me walk in the truth you have revealed. 

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Mark’s Record of His Last Message

Daily God Walk for Wednesday, December 29, 2010

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”                – Mark 16:15-18

Mark includes in his record the commission to, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation,” but he goes a bit further. He addresses what would happen when the disciples went out to preach the message of Christ.

Matthew records Jesus saying that he would go with them as they went out, but Mark records just what that would mean to those who would accept this commissioning.

The gospel of Christ is a message that is radically different than any religious message the world had heard before. All other religions had as their primary belief the concept of appeasing their gods. The very foundation of Christianity is that God gave us Christ to answer the problem of our sin.

The message of Jesus the Christ is that we do not need to appease God because he has paid the price for our sins. All we must do to become beneficiaries of what Christ did for mankind is to believe in him and commit our life to following his teaching.

That message is so radical that there must be some evidence of its truth beyond just testifying that this is what God said. Mark gives us these evidences. After listing the supernatural things which would accompany believers Mark concludes his writing with these words: Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it” (v20).

 Principle: God confirms his words with signs and wonders.

Affirmation: I have seen signs and I have believed.

Prayer:  Lord, grant me the humility to submit to you and the grace to use me to speak words of faith to others. Amen.

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Matthew’s Record of His Last Message

Daily God Walk for Tuesday, December 28, 2010

 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.”                 – Matthew 28:16-20

Matthew, Mark and Luke record the final words of instruction Jesus is giving to his disciples and each has just a little different emphasis. Matthew is emphasizing making disciples.

In these few verses Jesus says four important things. First, he says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” He was telling them that he had been given the authority to send them into the world to fulfill his purposes.

 The second thing he told them was that they were to go and make disciples of all nations. The message of Christ the Savior is not only to be preached but those who believe are to be taught the principles of living in the kingdom of God.

The third important thing he says is that those who believe are to be baptized. For two millennia now believers have been baptized in water. This Christian baptism is symbolic of putting away our old life; it is burying our old life, just as Christ was buried when he died. And, just as Christ rose from the grave with resurrection life, so we rise up from the waters of baptism with new life in Him (Romans 6:1-4).

The fourth thing Matthew records Jesus telling his disciples is that he would be with them all the way until the end of the age, or until the end of time on earth. We call this the great commission. He was commissioning his disciples to take the kingdom message to the entire world and he was promising that he would go with.

Principle: He told them to go and he would go with them.

Affirmation: I sense his presence because he is with me.

Prayer:  Lord, you have commanded believers to go into the whole world to make disciples, help me to obey that order. Amen.

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The Veil Was Torn When It Was Finished

Daily God Walk for Monday, December 27, 2010

Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.               – John 19:30

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.    – Mark 15:37-38

With these last words of Jesus, “It is finished,” an era which began with Adam and Eve had finally come to an end. When man sinned in the garden he was separated from God and a wall of separation was erected.

God placed an angel with a flaming sword at the entrance to the garden to keep man from going back into the garden and partaking of the tree of life. Man was separated from God and from eternal life.

This separation was further emphasized when God had Moses make a veil which would separate the common people from the presence of the Lord. God did make an exception and that was the high priest was allowed beyond the veil to effect atonement for the sins of the people but the average person was not allowed there.

The altar in the temple represented the fatal price of sin and the veil represented the separation between God and man caused by sin. For millennia man had suffered the altar and the veil with no remedy in sight.

Then Jesus came. He preached the kingdom of God was with them, but they still had the altar and the veil. The sacrifice of animals could atone for their sin, but the veil kept them separated from the glory of God and the ability to live above sin.

Then it was finished. The final sacrifice for sin had been made – there was no more need for sacrifice. The veil was ripped and man was finally given access to the glory of God. With the sin issue resolved by the death of Christ there was no more need for the veil.

God has released his glory to all who will receive Christ.

Principle: The cross and the torn veil have freed us from sin.

Affirmation: I have received God’s glory through faith in Christ.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for work of Calvary and the torn veil.

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Born in a Manger to Die On a Cross

Daily God Walk for Sunday, December 26, 2010

 From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachtani?” – which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”                                – Matthew 27:46

 He was born in a manger in a manger because there was no place for him in the world. Where he lived, no one knew. Once he was asked, “Can I go with you?” and he replied, “I have no where to go. Foxes have their holes, but I have no where to lay my head. Lord of the universe, Son of the Most High, yet on earth as a man he owned nothing and was held in a place of honor.

Angels rejoiced at his birth, then thirty three years later the heavens were darkened at his death. For three hours the earth darkened in morning as Jesus, the very Word of God, the one who John declared to be the creator of all things, hung on the cross dying.

The dying words of the man we know as Jesus, the Christ, was the desperate plea of one left to suffer alone, “Why have you forsaken me?” The man felt the excruciating pain of rejection by the people he had come to help and finally abandonment by the Spirit that had empowered his ministry.

Alone and experiencing agony the extent of which we can not even imagine, this man Jesus, known as the Christ, bore the pain and shame of the entire world as he gave himself for the sins of all mankind. Now the words of Isaiah are fulfilled:

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

He suffered the punishment for our sins that we might have peace with God. Thank you Jesus for giving yourself so that all those who believe in you would have eternal life.

 Principle: God required a price for sin – then he paid the cost.

Affirmation: My sins are forgiven by faith in Christ.

Prayer: Father, help me to never forget the cost of my salvation.   

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Father, Forgive Them

Daily God Walk for Saturday, December 25, 2010

 When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.  – Luke 22:33-34

 At no other time was the mission of Christ put to a greater test than when he hung upon the cross. After enduring a night of torture he was nailed to a cross between two common thieves. There, in extreme agony he cries out to the Father, “Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

In this moment of physical pain he remembered why he was there. He had earlier prayed, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me, but, nevertheless, your will be done.” He had resigned himself to the mission for which he was sent to earth.

Later the apostle Paul would write of Christ, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself, and became obedient to death – even death on a cross         !” Philippians 3:6-8.

It was his mission to present his human body as a sacrifice for the sins of all of mankind, even for those who had tortured and crucified him. In the midst of his pain he cried, “Forgive them.”

When the soldiers mocked him saying, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself,” heaven and earth rocked with the echo, “Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

As they place a crown of thorns on his head heaven could still hear the words, “Forgive them.”

Centuries later when we reminded him of his wounds by the sin of our life and our rebellion against God heaven still reverberated with the echo of his words: “Forgive them.”

 Principle: Heaven and earth still echo his words: “Forgive Them”

Affirmation:  He has forgiven me!

Prayer: Thank you Lord for your grace and forgiveness. Amen.

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Paul ”Hope Preacher” Smith

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